Occupational Asthma Reference

Ndlela NH, Naidoo RN, Job and exposure intensity among hospital cleaning staff adversely affects respiratory health., Am J Ind Med, 2023;:1-13,doi:10.1002/ajim.23456

Keywords: cleaner, benzalkonium, south africa, FEV1, ep, cs,

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Occupational exposure to various types of cleaning agents may increase the risk of adverse respiratory health among cleaners. This study investigated the relationship between exposure to cleaning and disinfecting agents, using a job-task and exposure intensity metric, and respiratory outcomes among cleaners.

A sample of 174 cleaners was selected from three public hospitals in Durban. A questionnaire was used to collect demographic and occupational information, and spirometry, including post-bronchodilator measures, was conducted according to the American Thoracic Society guidelines and skin prick testing were performed. Exposure metrics for job tasks and chemical exposures were created using frequency and employment-lifetime duration of exposure. Multivariate analysis regression models used job task and exposure intensity metrics.

Doctor-diagnosed asthma prevalence was 9.8%. Breathlessness with wheeze (22.4%) was the prevalent respiratory symptom. Positive responses to skin prick testing were seen in 74 (43.2%). There was a statistically significant increased risk for shortness of breath with exposure to quaternary ammonium compounds (odds ratio [OR]: 3.44; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.13–10.5) and breathlessness with exposure to multipurpose cleaner (OR: 0.34; CI: 0.12–0.92). The losses in percent-predicted forced expiratory volume in 1?s (FEV1) ranged from 0.3%–6.7%. Results among the bronchodilator-positive (8.6%) showed lung function losses twofold greater when compared to the total study population with percentage predicted FEV1 (-22.6 %; p?<?0.000).

Exposure to certain cleaning and disinfectant agents adversely affects respiratory health, particularly lung function. This effect, while seen generally among cleaning workers, is more pronounced among those with pre-existing reversible obstructive lung disease.

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