The use of bleach and high-level disinfectants in the healthcare industry may increase the risk of asthma symptoms

In April 2019 researchers from the USA published the results of their study to assess the association between similar patterns of cleaning and disinfecting activities with asthma symptoms. A total of 2,030 healthcare workers within nine selected occupations were included in the study. Information on asthma symptoms/care, cleaning and disinfecting activities, smoking status, allergic status, and other characteristics were were self-reported. The individuals were grouped according to the similarity of asthma symptoms and five groups were identified, namely “no symptoms”, “winter cough/phlegm”, “mild asthma symptoms”, “undiagnosed/untreated asthma”, and “asthma attacks/exacerbations”. Fourteen product applications used during cleaning and disinfecting activities were assessed and again five groups were identified and labelled as: “no products”, “housekeeping/chlorine”, “patient care”, “general cleaning/laboratory”, and “disinfection products”. Results showed that various combinations of product applications, like using alcohols, bleach, high-level disinfectants, and enzymes to disinfect instruments and clean surfaces were identified as risk factors for the different asthma symptoms.

Su FC et al. Clustering asthma symptoms and cleaning and disinfecting activities and evaluating their associations among healthcare workers. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2019 Apr 19. [Epub ahead of print]

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