Acute symptoms associated with chemical exposures and safe work practices among hospital and campus cleaning workers: A pilot study

Cleaning workers are regularly exposed to cleaning products containing hazardous chemicals. This study investigated acute symptoms associated with chemical exposures among cleaning workers and their safe work practices. This cross-sectional study included 183 cleaning workers employed in an academic medical centre and affiliated health sciences campuses in Northern California. Data on respiratory, eye, skin, neurological, and gastrointestinal symptoms and occupational factors were collected by in-person interviews or self-administered questionnaires. Chemical-related symptoms (several times monthly or more often) were more common among workers who performed patient area cleaning (44%) than hospital custodians (36%) or campus custodians (28%). After controlling for age, sex, and job title, symptoms were associated with exposure to carpet cleaners (OR=2.98, 95% CI 1.28-6.92), spray products (OR=2.82, 95% CI 1.16-6.82), solvents (OR=2.71, 95% CI 1.20-6.15), and multi-purpose cleaners (OR?=?2.58, 935% CI 1.13-6.92). Except for gloves, regular use of personal protective equipment was infrequent. The authors concluded that the study findings suggest a need for additional interventions such as use of less toxic products to reduce health risks among cleaning workers.

Authors: Lee SJ, Nam B, Harrison R, Hong O. ;Full Source: American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 2014 Nov;57(11):1216-26. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22376. Epub 2014 Sep 15. ;