Ethylene Oxide

CAS RN: 75-21-8

Other Preventive Measures

Wear protective gloves and clothing to prevent any reasonable probability of skin contact. Safety equipment suppliers/manufacturers can provide recommendations on the most protective glove/clothing material for your operation. All protective clothing (suits, gloves, footwear, headgear) should be clean, available each day, and put on before work. Contact lenses should not be worn when working with this chemical. Wear gas and splash-proof chemical goggles and face shield unless full facepiece respiratory protection is worn. Employees should wash immediately with soap when skin is wet or contaminated. Provide emergency showers and eyewash.
SRP: Contaminated protective clothing should be segregated in such a manner so that there is no direct personal contact by personnel who handle, dispose, or clean the clothing. Quality assurance to ascertain the completeness of the cleaning procedures should be implemented before the decontaminated protective clothing is returned for reuse by the workers. Contaminated clothing should not be taken home at end of shift, but should remain at employee's place of work for cleaning.
Prevent overfeeding of OECD Make sure that all interlocks and other safeguards are in place before sterilization begins. Periodically wash or vent sterilized products that sit idle in a sterilizer or aeration room to prevent EtO buildup. Monitor EtO concentrations in the sterilizer before the back vents are activated to avoid venting high EtO concentrations to the oxidizing emission control device (OECD). Vent confined spaces such as the sterilizer and the aeration room to the outisde after a power loss. Do not purge EtO lines to an OECD. Perform regular preventive maintenance. Obtain management approval before changing the process or safety interlocks.
Do not smoke at work. Do not use electrical devices or create open flames where EtO is handled, used, or stored.
Use nonsparking tools when opening or closing metal containers of EtO or whenever EtO might be present. Keep containers individually bonded and grounded to the earth when liquid EtO is poured or transferred.
Deal with leaks and spills /involving industrial ethylene oxide sterilizers/. Leave a leak or spill area immediately. If a catastrophic or large release of EtO occurs, do not enter the area. Evacuate the building and notify the fire department immediately. Do not enter an area where there is a small EtO leak until you have put on personal protective equipment (PPE), including a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) that has a full facepiece and is operated in a pressure-demand or other positive-pressure mode. Do not use an SCBA unless you have received proper training and are current on its safe use.
If liquid EtO contacts your skin, rinse it immediately under a heavy shower. Remove any contaminated clothing. Get medical attention. If EtO gets into your eyes, flush them immediately with a steady stream of water for at least 15 minutes. Lift the upper and lower eyelids and direct the stream of water under the eyelids. Get medical attention.
Use the respiratory protection recommended in the complete /NIOSH/ Alert / on Industrial Ethylene Oxide Sterilization/ during emergencies, maintenance work, vessel cleaning, and whenever engineering controls cannot be implemented. Use PPE such as chemical-resistant gloves, eye-splash protection, and liquid-tight protective clothing whenever liquid EtO might be present.
Employers should prevent overfeeding of the OECD Make sure that all interlocks and other safeguards are in place before sterilization begins. Periodically wash or vent sterilized products that sit idle in a sterilizer or aeration room to prevent EtO buildup. Monitor EtO concentrations in the sterilizer before the back vents are activated to avoid venting high EtO concentrations to the oxidizing emission control device (OECD). Install an OECD bypass for emergency use if allowed by State or local environmental regulations.
Equip the /industrial ethylene oxide sterilization/ facility with a type 2, 3 carbon dioxide or dry chemical fire extinguisher. Train workers annually in their safe use. Provide emergency eye-wash facilities. Provide workers with the respiratory protection recommended in the complete Alert during emergencies, maintenance work, vessel cleaning, and whenever engineering controls cannot be implemented. ... Provide workers with chemical-resistant gloves, eye-splash protection, and liquid-tight protective clothing whenever liquid EtO might be present. ... Do not permit workers to participate in emergency response without SCBAs and proper training. If workers do not have SCBAs and proper training, let the local fire department conduct the rescue.
... Worker short-term exposures during unloading /of sterilized products/ was inversely correlated (p < 0.05) with the numbers of poststerilization purge cycle applied. ... Increasing the number of poststerilization purge cycles is a simple approach to eliminating extremely high exposure during unloading. Improvements to ventilation, particularly in the aeration area and warehouse, were also effective in minimizing /hospital/ worker exposures. Use of effective respirator is recommended until the EO exposure levels ... fall below the permissible exposure limit.
Improper use of sterilization equipment can result in burns from steam and exposure to ethylene oxide. Detailed operating instructions should be posted on or near the sterilization units. Autoclaves and other steam-pressured vessels should be inspected periodically, and records of the inspections should be maintained. These steps will protect workers and ensure that sterilization is adequate.
Piping ethylene oxide through the hospital from a storage area may increased the potential for exposure to this hazard. During such piping, supply lines from gas cylinders transfer a liquid mixture of 12% ethylene oxide and 88% Freon under pressure to the sterilizers. Ethylene oxide is usually supplied with Freon ... so that the mixture is nonflammable. If supply lines are not drained before the tanks are changed, the gaseous mixture can spray the maintenance worker before the pressure is released. Long supply lines from the cylinders to the sterilizers are also a potential source of exposure for many people and may make it difficult to locate and repair ruptures or leaks. By placing the cylinders close to the sterilizer in a mechanical access room (as many hospitals do) the exposure and accident hazard can be contained and controlled. Although the mechanical access room is usually very warm and humid, these conditions can be controlled through adequate exhaust ventilation.
Hospitals with sterilizers that use 100% ethylene oxide cartridges should store only a few cartridges in the department. The rest should be kept in a cool, dry place. Exhaust systems for ethylene oxide should be designed to prevent re-entry of the vapors into other areas of the building.
If material not on fire and not involved in fire: Keep sparks, flames, and other sources of ignition away. Keep material out of water sources and sewers. Build dikes to contain flow as necessary. Attempt to stop leak if without undue personnel hazard. Use water spray to disperse vapors and dilute standing pools of liquid. /Ethylene oxide or ethylene oxide with nitrogen/
Personnel protection: Avoid breathing vapors. Keep upwind. ... Avoid bodily contact with the material. ... Do not handle broken packages unless wearing appropriate personal protective equipment. Wash away any material which may have contacted the body with copious amounts of water or soap and water. /Ethylene oxide or ethylene oxide with nitrogen/
SRP: The scientific literature for the use of contact lenses in industry is conflicting. The benefit or detrimental effects of wearing contact lenses depend not only upon the substance, but also on factors including the form of the substance, characteristics and duration of the exposure, the uses of other eye protection equipment, and the hygiene of the lenses. However, there may be individual substances whose irritating or corrosive properties are such that the wearing of contact lenses would be harmful to the eye. In those specific cases, contact lenses should not be worn. In any event, the usual eye protection equipment should be worn even when contact lenses are in place.
PRECAUTIONS FOR "CARCINOGENS": Smoking, drinking, eating, storage of food or of food & beverage containers or utensils, & the application of cosmetics should be prohibited in any laboratory. All personnel should remove gloves, if worn, after completion of procedures in which carcinogens have been used. They should ... wash ... hands, preferably using dispensers of liq detergent, & rinse ... thoroughly. Consideration should be given to appropriate methods for cleaning the skin, depending on nature of the contaminant. No standard procedure can be recommended, but the use of organic solvents should be avoided. Safety pipettes should be used for all pipetting. /Chemical Carcinogens/
PRECAUTIONS FOR "CARCINOGENS": In animal laboratory, personnel should remove their outdoor clothes & wear protective suits (preferably disposable, one-piece & close-fitting at ankles & wrists), gloves, hair covering & overshoes. ... clothing should be changed daily but ... discarded immediately if obvious contamination occurs ... /also,/ workers should shower immediately. In chemical laboratory, gloves & gowns should always be worn ... however, gloves should not be assumed to provide full protection. Carefully fitted masks or respirators may be necessary when working with particulates or gases, & disposable plastic aprons might provide addnl protection. If gowns are of distinctive color, this is a reminder that they should not be worn outside of lab. /Chemical Carcinogens/
PRECAUTIONS FOR "CARCINOGENS": ... Operations connected with synth & purification ... should be carried out under well-ventilated hood. Analytical procedures ... should be carried out with care & vapors evolved during ... procedures should be removed. ... Expert advice should be obtained before existing fume cupboards are used ... & when new fume cupboards are installed. It is desirable that there be means for decreasing the rate of air extraction, so that carcinogenic powders can be handled without ... powder being blown around the hood. Glove boxes should be kept under negative air pressure. Air changes should be adequate, so that concn of vapors of volatile carcinogens will not occur. /Chemical Carcinogens/
PRECAUTIONS FOR "CARCINOGENS": Vertical laminar-flow biological safety cabinets may be used for containment of in vitro procedures ... provided that the exhaust air flow is sufficient to provide an inward air flow at the face opening of the cabinet, & contaminated air plenums that are under positive pressure are leak-tight. Horizontal laminar-flow hoods or safety cabinets, where filtered air is blown across the working area towards the operator, should never be used ... Each cabinet or fume cupboard to be used ... should be tested before work is begun (eg, with fume bomb) & label fixed to it, giving date of test & avg air-flow measured. This test should be repeated periodically & after any structural changes. /Chemical Carcinogens/
PRECAUTIONS FOR "CARCINOGENS": Principles that apply to chem or biochem lab also apply to microbiological & cell-culture labs ... Special consideration should be given to route of admin. ... Safest method of administering volatile carcinogen is by injection of a soln. Admin by topical application, gavage, or intratracheal instillation should be performed under hood. If chem will be exhaled, animals should be kept under hood during this period. Inhalation exposure requires special equipment. ... unless specifically required, routes of admin other than in the diet should be used. Mixing of carcinogen in diet should be carried out in sealed mixers under fume hood, from which the exhaust is fitted with an efficient particulate filter. Techniques for cleaning mixer & hood should be devised before expt begun. When mixing diets, special protective clothing &, possibly, respirators may be required. /Chemical Carcinogens/
PRECAUTIONS FOR "CARCINOGENS": When ... admin in diet or applied to skin, animals should be kept in cages with solid bottoms & sides & fitted with a filter top. When volatile carcinogens are given, filter tops should not be used. Cages which have been used to house animals that received carcinogens should be decontaminated. Cage-cleaning facilities should be installed in area in which carcinogens are being used, to avoid moving of ... contaminated /cages/. It is difficult to ensure that cages are decontaminated, & monitoring methods are necessary. Situations may exist in which the use of disposable cages should be recommended, depending on type & amt of carcinogen & efficiency with which it can be removed. /Chemical Carcinogens/
PRECAUTIONS FOR "CARCINOGENS": To eliminate risk that ... contamination in lab could build up during conduct of expt, periodic checks should be carried out on lab atmospheres, surfaces, such as walls, floors & benches, & ... interior of fume hoods & airducts. As well as regular monitoring, check must be carried out after cleaning-up of spillage. Sensitive methods are required when testing lab atmospheres. ... Methods ... should ... where possible, be simple & sensitive. /Chemical Carcinogens/
PRECAUTIONS FOR "CARCINOGENS": Rooms in which obvious contamination has occurred, such as spillage, should be decontaminated by lab personnel engaged in expt. Design of expt should ... avoid contamination of permanent equipment. ... Procedures should ensure that maintenance workers are not exposed to carcinogens. ... Particular care should be taken to avoid contamination of drains or ventilation ducts. In cleaning labs, procedures should be used which do not produce aerosols or dispersal of dust, ie, wet mop or vacuum cleaner equipped with high-efficiency particulate filter on exhaust, which are avail commercially, should be used. Sweeping, brushing & use of dry dusters or mops should be prohibited. Grossly contaminated cleaning materials should not be re-used ... If gowns or towels are contaminated, they should not be sent to laundry, but ... decontaminated or burnt, to avoid any hazard to laundry personnel. /Chemical Carcinogens/
PRECAUTIONS FOR "CARCINOGENS": Doors leading into areas where carcinogens are used ... should be marked distinctively with appropriate labels. Access ... limited to persons involved in expt. ... A prominently displayed notice should give the name of the Scientific Investigator or other person who can advise in an emergency & who can inform others (such as firemen) on the handling of carcinogenic substances. /Chemical Carcinogens/
Substantial quantities of ethylene oxide may remain in treated materials after gas sterilization. Consequently,, safe use of ethylene oxide in hospitals and health instrument manufacture requires an aeration phase, the length of which depends on the material being treated.
The worker should immediately wash the skin when it becomes contaminated. /Liquid/
Work clothing that becomes wet should be immediately removed due to its flammability hazard (i.e., for liquids with a flash point <100 deg C).
Sterilization/fumigation with ETO must be performed only in vacuum or gas Application: tight chambers designed for use with ETO. It is applied by commercial applicators only; there are no residential uses of ETO.
Contract sterilization facilities use a variety of approaches to reduce the risks of ETO exposure to employees. These approaches include facility design, ETO chamber design, ETO treatment cycle protocols, respirator requirements, employee monitoring, employee training, and facility procedures. ...
Respirators are required to be worn during certain tasks such as unloading ETO treatment chambers, entering an aeration room (or cell), performing maintenance tasks on ETO pipes or equipment, sampling or accessing ETO-treatment materials, and changing ETO drums or tanks. Canister masks are the most commonly used respirator. Forced air masks (i.e., supplied air respirators) are used when entering areas with high-ETO concentrations (eg, aeration rooms). Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) is used in emergency situations and for some maintenance activities. Employee exposure monitoring is required under OSHA regulations. Employees wear monitoring badges at least twice per year to determine their ETO exposure. Continuous ETO monitors are installed throughout many facilities and handheld monitors are used as well. ... Unlike in contract sterilization facilities, workers in hospital settings do not routinely wear respirators. Typically respirators are used only in emergency situations. However, employee exposure monitoring is required under OSHA regulations. Employees wear monitoring badges to determine their ETO exposure. ...
SRP: Local exhaust ventilation should be applied wherever there is an incidence of point source emissions or dispersion of regulated contaminants in the work area. Ventilation control of the contaminant as close to its point of generation is both the most economical and safest method to minimize personnel exposure to airborne contaminants.
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