NTP finds replacement disinfectant is an irritant
National Toxicology Program scientists found that ortho-phthalaldehyde (OPA), a chemical disinfectant used as an alternative for the germicide glutaraldehyde, has the potential to irritate the lungs, eyes, and skin of exposed rats and mice. The finding suggests that OPA may not be a suitable replacement.
Glutaraldehyde was used for decades to sterilize medical and dental equipment, but the compound was associated with red, itchy skin and occupational asthma in those who handled it. OPA was considered a better option, because of its greater antimicrobial ability and perceived safety. However, whole-body inhalation studies with Harlan Sprague-Dawley rats and B6C3F1/N mice suggested OPA was also associated with health effects.
Researchers exposed the rodents for three months, using differing concentrations of OPA. The rats and mice developed lesions at the sites of contact throughout the respiratory tract, including the nose, larynx, trachea, and lung, as well as the eyes and skin. In general, necrotic lesions occurred at deeper sites within the respiratory tract with increasing concentrations. The authors are concerned about the use of OPA as a replacement for glutaraldehyde as a high-level disinfectant. (PS)
Citation: Catlin NR, Willson CJ, Stout M, Kissling GE, Waidyanatha S, Baker GL, Hayden BK, Wyde M. 2017. Evaluation of the respiratory tract toxicity of ortho-phthalaldehyde, a proposed alternative for the chemical disinfectant glutaraldehyde. Inhal Toxicol 29(9):414–427.