Estimation of exposure from spilled glutaraldehyde solutions in a hospital setting

Karen J M Niven*, John W. Cherrie, Jonathan Spencer

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Glutaraldehyde is commonly used in hospitals for cold disinfection of instruments which may be damaged by autoclaving. The increased use of automatic washer/disinfection machines has resulted in a greater risk of spills than with manual methods. A series of experiments was conducted to answer two related research questions: what was the likely range of airborne concentrations when glutaraldehyde is spilled, and are commonly used personal protective equipment ensembles effective and practicable in use? Objective measurements using three sampling methods (two pumped methods based on OSHA 64, one using treated filters and the other based on adsorbent tubes, and a Glutaraldemeter direct reading instrument) were conducted with spills of various surface areas of both 2 and 50% solutions of glutaraldehyde. Results ranged between < 0.01 and 1.4 ppm. Two personal protective equipment ensembles were tested. One was based on a half-facepiece respirator with gas-tight goggles, while the other comprised a full-facepiece cartridge respirator. Both ensembles gave adequate protection against irritation, although in use the half-facepiece respirator and goggles tended to interfere with each other. The direct reading instrument generally underestimated the glutaraldehyde concentrations, although there was a significant association with the results obtained using the method based on adsorbent tubes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)691-698
    Number of pages8
    JournalAnnals of Occupational Hygiene
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • General Health Professions


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