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Phase out of gluteraldehyde in health workplace

25 July, 2003

Kedgley: Phase out of gluteraldehyde in the health workplace

Green MP Sue Kedgley today called on the Minister of Health to step in to protect radiographers and nurses from exposure to the highly toxic chemical gluteraldehyde, in the light of the release of the Report of the Ministerial Inquiry into the Management of Certain Hazardous Substances in Workplaces.

"Gluteraldehye must be phased out in the workplace, because it is so toxic," said Ms Kedgley.

"It is ironic that our most sought after technical specialists like radiographers and nurses are most at risk from exposure to this chemical. Some of them are being forced to leave the workforce, because of their exposure to this toxic chemical.

"The Report confirms that 20 per cent of x-rays in New Zealand are still being developed using gluteraldehyde, when it there are widely used, and safer alternatives."

The Inquiry estimates that 400 people are killed each year from exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace.

"This is a shocking statistic. It is about the same number as die in road accidents. Clearly we need an urgent national strategy to reduce the exposure of workers to hazardous chemicals in the workplace."

Ms. Kedgley welcomed the Inquiry's call for OSH to be more proactive in protecting workers from exposure to toxic chemicals.

"It takes time to get sick from exposure to these toxic chemicals and it's too late once someone develops symptoms. Why should someone have to get sick before OSH will act against bad workplace practices?"

Ms Kedgley was also delighted that the report calls for OSH to recognise Multiple Chemical Sensitivity as an occupational health issue and ensure that all practical steps are taken to prevent the development of this debilitating condition.


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