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J Occup Health. 2006 Mar;48(2):75-87.

Effects of glutaraldehyde exposure on human health.

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Department of Public Health, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tokyo Rosai Hospital, Japan.


Glutaraldehyde (GA) is widely used in the industrial, scientific and biomedical fields. Many adverse health effects on humans have been reported in association with biomedical uses of GA, with 2-3.5% aqueous GA solution generally used for cold sterilization and GA exposure ranges of 0.001 to 2.6 ppm for this type of use. GA is metabolized extensively to CO(2), but urinary excretion of it is low. Sensory irritant effects, sensitization of skin and respiratory organs and other symptoms have been reported among endoscopy nurses and medical radiation technologists. The prevalence of chronic bronchitis and nasal symptoms in humans is significantly correlated with peak concentrations of GA exposure. The extent of primary skin irritation depends on the duration and site of contact, and the severity of symptoms is dose-related. Chronic inhalation affects the nose and respiratory tract, and lesions become severe with prolonged duration of exposure. Increases in neither mortality nor tumor incidence have been found in workers with less than 0.2 ppm GA exposure, no evidence of carcinogenic activity has been obtained in experimental animal studies. There has been no clear evidence of genetic toxicity of GA in either in vitro or in vivo studies, and neither developmental nor reproductive toxicity has been found in humans or animals. To prevent hazards from GA exposure, use of closed-system, fully automated washing machines is recommended, since numerous symptoms have been found in individuals with less than 0.05 ppm GA exposure, the recommended peak exposure limit in many countries.

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