Occupational Exposure Limits
Several government agencies and industry associations have set limitation guidelines for workers exposed to EtO, H₂O₂, and PAA. These guidelines are enforced to ensure workers who are exposed to high concentrations of these sterilant chemicals do not develop serious health problems, ranging from minor irritations to serious health concerns.
In the USA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has promulgated Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for several hundred chemicals (29 CFR 1910.1000) and some states also have their own PELs. These PELs are legally enforceable exposure limits. In addition, government agencies such a the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued its recommended exposure limits and the American Conference of Governmental and Industrial Hygiene (ACGIH) has issued its Threshold Limit Values (TLVs).
How Chemical Monitoring Can Help
ChemDAQ is a worker safety company. Our monitoring systems are designed to measure and alert management and workers in real-time when chemical vapors in the air exceed safety levels and prevent occupational exposure. Continuous monitoring of these sterilant chemicals is an investment that pays significant dividends.
3:1 Return on Investment
for every dollar spent on monitoring*
Reduced Employee Turnover
and higher team morale
with health and safety concerns
Become an Industry-Leader
in workforce health and safety best practices
*Liberty Mutual, 2014
Permissible Exposure Limits
Browse Gas Types
EtO is a sterilant chemical used in hospitals and the medical device manufacturing industry. EtO is a very effective sterilant, with excellent material compatibility, but it is also a known carcinogen, mutagen and teratogen and so exposure can cause serious health effects. It’s also a colorless chemical that is highly flammable and reactive at room temperature.
H₂O₂ is a sterilant chemical used in hospitals and aseptic packaging facilities. H₂O₂ is a strong oxidant. Contact with the liquid can cause chemical burns, and exposure to the vapor can cause damage to the eyes and the respiratory system. H₂O₂ is environmentally friendly because its high reactivity results in a short residence time if it is released into the environment and the benign decomposition products are only oxygen and water.
PAA is a widely-used disinfectant chemical in hospitals and throughout the food processing industry. PAA is a stronger oxidizing agent than even H₂O₂. Contact to the chemical can cause chemical burns and exposure to the vapor can cause damage to the eyes and respiratory system. PAA solution is a colorless liquid with a strong vinegar-like odor. Like H₂O₂, PAA is environmentally friendly because it rapidly breaks down to form benign products, namely oxygen and acetic acid, so PAA is safe for direct food contact.
How is Workforce Safety Mandated?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is authorized by the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act to regulate, monitor and inspect workplaces. In many cases, these inspections can be unannounced and can cover any place of employment – from structure and machines to equipment and materials. The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) has also closely examined the effects of overexposure from EtO, H₂O₂, and PAA and set forth permissible exposure limits for safe and effective use within the workplace.
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