Just in time for Halloween – some spine tingling facts about 2 very popular high-level disinfectants.

Posted by : airclean on

Since October is the “spookiest time of year” we thought we would dedicate this month’s blog to the scary facts about the exposure to Glutaraldehyde and OPA.

Did you know? Glutaraldehyde and OPA high-level disinfectants clean scopes and probes by killing cells and microorganisms, which also means they have the potential to be irritants and possibly sensitizers.

So what happens when you breathe in these fumes? The answers as you might expect are scarier than the zombies and goblins you’ll see haunting the streets for Halloween!

Regardless of whether you are using Glutaraldehyde or OPA as your HLD, you still need adequate ventilation and containment of the fumes and vapours released during your reprocessing cycle.

There are limited studies examining the potential long-term health effects from exposure to OPA, but why risk it? Exposure to both OPA and Glutaraldehyde fumes can cause eye, ear, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea and vomiting, as well as asthma among other respiratory problems. Glutaraldehyde has one of the lowest TLV of any known chemical. TLV-STEL is the Threshold Limit Value – Short-Term Exposure Limit – the concentration to which it is believed that workers can be exposed continuously for a short period of time without suffering from irritation, chronic or irreversible damage, or narcosis of sufficient degree to increase the likelihood of accidental injury, impair self-rescue or materially reduce work efficiency, and provided that the daily TLV-TWA is not exceeded. The ACGIH has adopted a TLV for Glutaraldehyde of 0.05ppm. Although OPA does not have an odour associated with it, its fumes are still dangerous. In fact, the instructions recommend the use of a containment hood.

Because of these risks, ventilation standards with regards to high-level disinfectants and vapour control were developed. These standards state:

  • Chemical sterilants should be used in an area that is properly ventilated.
  • Rooms in which chemical disinfection and sterilization are performed should have a minimum of 10 air exchanges per hour (local regulations may require a higher minimum exchange rate).
  • When general room ventilation is not adequate, a self-contained, freestanding system* or a local exhaust hood should be installed to capture chemical vapour during processing.
  • When an outside exhaust system is not available, a ductless fume hood* can be used to deliver vapour to a filter system that chemically inactivates the vapor; then clean, filtered air is returned to the room.
  • Filters for these systems should be replaced at regular intervals.
*A ductless fume hood is simply a freestanding system that captures the toxic fumes and vapors via a carbon filter and returns clean air to the room. Other names for ductless fume hoods are vapour control systems and disinfection soak stations.


AirClean Systems manufactures a variety of ductless containment solutions including ductless ultrasound and endoscopy workstations. Incorporating revolutionary activated bonded carbon technology specifically designed for Glutaraldehyde or OPA, AirClean Systems allows workers to safely disinfect endoscopy and ultrasound probes.

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