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CAS No. 111-30-8

Glutaraldehyde, C5H8O2 or OCH(CH₂)₃CHO, is a transparent oily, liquid with a pungent odor. Exposure to glutaraldehyde may cause the following symptoms: throat and lung irritation, asthma and difficulty breathing, dermatitis, nasal irritation, sneezing, wheezing, burning eyes, and conjunctivitis. Workers may be harmed from exposure to glutaraldehyde.  Workers can be exposed to glutaraldehyde through inhalation or skin contact. The level of exposure depends upon the dose, duration, and work being done.

Glutaraldehyde is used for a number of applications:

  • Disinfectant for surgical instruments that cannot be heat sterilized
  • A cross-linking and tanning agent
  • A biocide in metalworking fluids and in oil and gas pipelines
  • An antimicrobial in water-treatment systems
  • A slimicide in paper manufacturing
  • A preservative in cosmetics
  • A disinfectant in animal housing
  • A tissue fixative in histology and pathology labs
  • A hardening agent in the development of X-rays
  • In embalming solutions
  • In the preparation of grafts and bioprostheses
  • In various clinical applications

NIOSH recommends that employers use Hierarchy of Controls to prevent injuries.  If you work in an industry that uses glutaraldehyde, please read chemical labels and the accompanying Safety Data Sheet for hazard information. Visit NIOSH’s page on Managing Chemical Safety in the Workplace to learn more about controlling chemical workplace exposures.

The following resources provide information about occupational exposure to glutaraldehyde. Useful search terms for glutaraldehyde include “glutaric dialdehyde,” and “1,5-pentanedial.”

NIOSH Chemical Resources

Logo of NIOSH Pocket Guide

NIOSH Pocket Guide

The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG) helps workers, employers, and occupational health professionals recognize and control workplace chemical hazards.

Logo of Manual of Analytical Methods.

Manual of Analytical Methods

The NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM) is a collection of methods for sampling and analysis of contaminants in workplace air, and in the blood and urine of workers who are occupationally exposed.

Logo of Health Hazard Evaluations consisting of three letters: HHE

Health Hazard Evaluations

The Health Hazard Evaluation Program (HHE) conducts onsite investigations of possible worker exposure to chemicals. Search the HHE database for more information on glutaraldehyde.

Related NIOSH Resources

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