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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.”

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