Posted by: Eco-Dentistry Association | June 5, 2013

Spare the Air & the Water: Forget the “Glut”

JANE: Shot July 8Few things trigger dental fear like that “dental office smell”.  What causes it?  In many cases it is the pungent odor of glutaraldehyde, a commonly used cold sterilizing solution.

The “glut” has a dark side. It is a known irritant to the skin, eyes and respiratory systems, and its use should be confined to large, well-ventilated rooms, or those with exhaust fans.  Protective clothing including full-coverage gown, splash-proof goggles, and butyl rubber gloves, should always be worn.

Environmentally, solutions between 2-5% must be chemically deactivated before they are poured down the drain.  Remember that our drains end up in our local wastewater treatment facilities that process waste before discharging it to rivers, lakes and oceans.  If glutaraldehyde is not deactivated, its bacteria destroying properties disrupt the bacterial soup that allows our treatment facilities to properly break down waste.

Our experience is that all dental offices can successfully eliminate glutaraldehyde.  Here are some tips:

  1. Take a critical look at what you have been cold sterilizing.  If items are intended to be single use disposables, then they shouldn’t be sterilized and reused.  Seek out reusable alternatives.
  2. Some items doctors believed needed to be cold sterilized can actually be steam autoclaved.  One of our member doctors discovered that the “bite sticks” she uses with her panoramic x-ray unit can safely be autoclaved.
  3. If any items remain that require cold sterilization, consider an environmentally safe hydrogen peroxide based alternative, like the one from Sci-Can.

Eliminating this toxic chemical from our dental offices is a win for everyone:  your office will have a more welcoming smell for patients, your dental team’s health will be safe-guarded, and our environment will protected.  Ditch the “glut” today!

Resources:

http://naples.cc.sunysb.edu/Admin/HRSForms.nsf/pub/EHSD0095/$FILE/EHSD0095.pdf

http://www.sustainablehospitals.org/HTMLSrc/IP_Glutcontrol.html#table1

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