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Hospital cleaning products could put health of staff at risk


Patients and staff could be at risk from chemicals contained in hospital cleaning products, it has been claimed.

A study by researchers from the University of Massachusetts found potentially hazardous chemicals in common products used at six US hospitals. These included irritants to skin and lungs such as ammonium chlorides, glycol ethers and ethanolamine.

The investigations at three large teaching hospitals, one medium-sized hospital, and two suburban hospitals in eastern Massachusetts also found several alcohols, including benzyl alcohol.

The most severe exposure was found to have occurred when several cleaning tasks were performed in small and poorly ventilated areas.

Study leader Anila Bello 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.”

In the past, hospital cleaning staff have complained of skin conditions such as hand dermatitis, while exposure to cleaning agents is thought to be one of the leading causes of occupational asthma among health care workers.

The authors concluded: “Hazardous exposures related to cleaning products are an important public health concern because these exposures may impact not only cleaning workers, but also other occupants in the building.”


Readers' comments (2)

  • I have just won my case for damages bought against my trust for exposure to cleaning chemicals on my respiratory system. I am still suffering at times because they are still using the cleaning fluid although it supposibly doesn't contain the active ingrediant that causes problems. When ever we have an outbreak of D/V, where the fluid has to be used Ihave to be relocated or I am expected to take the time as annual leave if there is nowhere for me to do. I am finding this increasinly difficult as my annual leave is slowly going down through no fault of my own.

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  • As a cleaning professional it constantly surprises me how lax medical facilities are when it comes to the products they use. Cleaning product quality control centers on education and training and also monitoring new cleaning products as they are tested and come to market.

    Then there is the issue of cleaning staff monitoring, not in a Big Brother way, but just to ensure they are using the right products in the right way.

    My advice - Insist on on-site inspections and make sure that your feedback to your cleaning company (if they are at fault) is readily accepted and acted upon.

    ABM Cleaners
    'We do Clean'

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