Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Study: Chemicals harming patients and workers

March 27, 2009
LOWELL, MA — A pilot study from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell showed that common products used at six hospitals contained hazardous chemicals that can potentially harm the health of workers and patients, according to a Press Association article hosted by Google.com.
Some of the chemicals found include ammonium chlorides, glycol ethers, ethanolamine and benzyl alcohol, all of which irritate either the skin or lungs, the story stated.
Anila Bello from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, said: "Because the severity of cleaning exposures is affected by both product formulation and cleaning technique, a combination of product evaluation and workplace exposure data is needed to develop strategies that protect people from cleaning hazards."
The most hazardous situations occurred when cleaning tasks were performed in small and poorly ventilated spaces, notably bathrooms, the story noted.
According to the story, exposure to cleaning agents was recently identified as one of the leading causes of occupational asthma among health care workers.
Hospital cleaners are at particular risk because of the wide range of products they handle due to the increased focus on cleanliness in lieu of recent increases of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), the story added.
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