aldehyde fixatives & safety

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From:"Keith Ryan" <> (by way of histonet)
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Hello Histoland

Revisiting an old chestnut - safety and aldehyde fixatives.

In the UK, the Health & Safety Commission have just lowered exposure
limits for glutaraldehyde - I am really an EM person and do not know
if glut. is used much in histotechnology - is it?

In the UK, formalin has a MEL (maximum exposure limit) of 2 ppm or
2.5 mg/cu m - this is measurable and legally enforcible.
Glutaraldehyde used to have an OES (occupational exposure standard) of
0.2 ppm or 0.83 mg/cu m. over a 15 minute period. OES was a standard
to aim for, but not prosecutable if you weren't achieving it.

Now, glutaraldehyde suddenly has a MEL of 0.05 ppm, both for 15
minute short term reference limit AND THE 8 HOUR TIME WEIGHTED AVERAGE
EXPOSURE!!  This is a quarter of what it previously was and 40 times
lower than that for formaldehyde!  Does anyone know why or have
evidence or anecdotes of glutaradehyde-related health problems?  Is it
so nasty??

I am trying to contact HSC specialist committees for a response and
will post anytrhing that I receive.  I suspect that may be very

Regards - Keith (reincarnated after "early retirement")

Dr. Keith Ryan
Marine Biological Association of the UK
The Laboratory
Citadel Hill
Devon PL1 2PB

Tel. ++44 (0)1752 633249
Tel. ++44 (0)1752 633279
The 279 number has an answering machine

Fax ++44 (0)1752 633102


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