What is it about?
The pursuit of safer use of chemicals and zero discharge of hazardous chemicals has resulted in an ongoing chemical assessment and regulatory activity. Glutaraldehyde as a pure chemical shows acute toxicity and is eye irritant as typical for aldehyde‐type substances. It is sensitizing by inhalation and skin contact. Therefore, glutaraldehyde has been included in the SVHC Candidate List in 7/2021 as sensitizer.

The discussion about regulatory concerns and potential risks puts a lot of uncertainty on users of glutaraldehyde as cross‐linking agent as well as on users of glutaraldehyde cross‐linked products. The aim of the present study is therefore to provide an overview on research results of reactions of glutaraldehyde with proteins, potential reaction mechanisms and reaction products. The focus is set on biological tissues, namely collagen. The use of cross‐linked collagen in the medical field is well monitored and subject to particularly tight regulations. The findings and conclusions for reaction mechanisms of glutaraldehyde with collagen in biological tissues in the medical field will be also applicable to other applications, e.g. tanning. Literature and own findings on residual free glutaraldehyde after cross‐linking reactions are summarized. Conclusions will be drawn towards a safe use of glutaraldehyde as a cross‐linker.