Nurses at higher risk for asthma due to proximity to cleaning chemicals, study finds

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Nurses who are frequently exposed to cleaning chemicals are at a significantly higher risk of developing asthma than other healthcare workers, according to a recent report.

Nurses who are routinely exposed to disinfectants and other cleaning products are 72% more likely to develop asthma than healthcare workers in other fields, and 57% more likely to report asthma-like symptoms, the report finds. Likewise, nurses who regularly clean medical instruments are 67% more likely to develop asthma. Using patient care-related solvents and glues increases asthma likelihood by 51% among nurses.

Common cleaning products nurses are exposed to include topical cleansers for cleaning a patient's skin, glutaraldehyde for cold sterilization of medical instruments and common cleansers such as bleach, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Switching to "green chemicals" and taking extra precaution could help reduce the risk of developing asthma, say report authors. Their research appears in the online journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.