Researchers in America have found cleaning chemicals in wards run by nurses, which could irritate the lungs. Including cleansers and antiseptics used on patients’ skin, chemicals used in the sterilisation and all purpose cleaners like bleach.
There are already 5.4m people in the UK receiving treatment for asthma and cleaning products and irritants in the workplace are known to be one of the causes.
The findings of this research are based on a sample of 3,650 healthcare workers.
Cleaning instruments were associated with a 67% increased chance of being diagnosed with asthma and nurses who were exposed to general cleaning products were 72% more likely to have asthma.
Associate Professor Ahmed Arif, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, said: ‘Substituting cleaning agents with environmentally friendly ‘green chemicals’ and using appropriate personal care protection could help minimise occupational exposures in this professional group.’
The research found that nurses who were exposed to adhesives and solvents in the care of patients, were 50% more likely to report symptoms of asthma but not a formal diagnosis.
Prof Arif said: ‘Some of the products containing these chemicals were available as sprays, which increase the potential for aerosolisation. To our knowledge, exposure to these types of compounds has not been previously linked to asthma among nursing professionals and, hence, warrants further evaluation.’