OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

December 14, 1992

Ms. Marjorie P. Alloy
Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay
8251 Greensboro Drive
Suite 1100
McLean, Virginia 22102-3844

Dear Ms. Alloy:

This is in response to your letter of November 23, addressed to the Acting Assistant Secretary, Dorothy L. Strunk. You wrote on behalf of the International Lactation Consultants Association and inquired into the applicability of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens," to breast milk.

Breast milk is not included in the standard's definition of "other potentially infectious materials". Therefore contact with breast milk does not constitute occupational exposure, as defined by the standard. This determination was based on the Centers for Disease Control's findings that human breast milk has not been implicated in the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or the hepatitis B virus (HBV) to workers although it has been implicated in perinatal transmission of HIV and the hepatitis surface antigen has been found in the milk of mothers infected with HBV. For this reason, gloves should be worn by health-care workers in situations where exposures to breast milk might be frequent, for example, in milk banking.

We hope this information is responsive to your concerns and thank you for your interest in worker safety and health.


Roger A. Clark,
Directorate of Compliance Programs