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Cleaning's Affect On Asthma
According to the California Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program, part of the Occupational Health Branch of California Department of Public Health, cleaning products used in workplaces can cause or trigger work-related asthma. To prevent harsh affects of cleaning products, employers should make sure the safest products and practices are used in the workplace.
The program has found that nearly 10 percent of all work-related asthma cases were caused by exposure to cleaning products. Most of these cases had new asthma that started only after they began work — the exposures caused their asthma. About one in five people (almost 20 percent) used cleaning products directly, such as janitors. The other 80 percent of workers attributed their asthma symptoms to cleaning products used nearby. Many workplaces, like schools, hospitals, and restaurants are places where everyone, including children, can be affected by cleaning products.
How can asthma from cleaning products be prevented?
1. Use safer products — Safer products are available. For example, Green Seal GS-37 certified products do not contain ingredients that are known to cause asthma. There also are water-based cleaning tools available like steam cleaning or the new activated water systems (spray bottles that turn plain water into a cleaner). Using safer products protects workers and others in these work settings.
2. Use safer work methods — Never mix cleaning products together. Never use a cleaner at full strength when the instructions say to dilute it. Don’t disinfect too much. Disinfect only in areas where it is necessary or required. And always:
• Work with as much ventilation as possible, Open windows and doors if needed.
• Avoid using spray products and aerosols. Instead, pour cleaner onto a cloth to wipe on the surface. Microfiber cloths are best because less cleaning chemical is required.
• Use personal protective equipment such as goggles and gloves. Wear a respirator if your employer says one is necessary. CAUTION: dust masks will NOT prevent these chemicals from entering your lungs.
• Read product warning labels and MSDSs.
Read this full report here.