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Studies note risk of respiratory ailments for detergent factory workers

December 01, 2009
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NEW YORK — Two new studies note that people who work in detergent factories are at increased risk of developing respiratory problems from exposure to chemicals contained in the detergents, according to Reuters.
Dr. Frits van Rooy of the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences and his colleagues note in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine that workers exposed to detergents in liquid form are not considered to be at risk of these lung problems, but they should be, the story stated.
In a related study, Dr. Paul Cullinan of Imperial College and his colleagues report evidence suggesting that current standards for workplace exposure to powdered detergent chemicals are too high to protect workers from respiratory problems, the story noted.
Richard Sedlak, vice president of technical and internal affairs for The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA), said: "Over the years, the detergent industry has developed successful product stewardship programs to promote the safe use of enzymes, using appropriate risk assessment and risk management strategies to avoid unacceptable risks in the workplace."
Van Rooy and his team concluded that exposure to liquid detergent enzymes should be regarded as an occupational hazard leading to sensitization and occupational allergy, the story added.
According to the story, Cullinan and his team found that even low protease exposure increased the risk of upper respiratory problems and the airborne protease concentrations found to produce respiratory problems were well within current regulatory guidelines designed to protect workers'' health.
Cullinan said: "Setting proper standards will require further work, but this should not be difficult for an industry who for many years has taken great care in measuring both exposures and health outcomes in their factory workforces."
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