the latest NIOSH e-News has an interesting article on exposure to antimicrobial products
in hospitals, etc. here’s an excerpt:
“The most frequent occupations reported were janitors/housekeepers (24%) and nursing/medical assistants (16%). The reported mechanism of injury usually was splashes/spills (51%). The eyes were the most common organ/system affected (55%); only 15% of the 265 persons who had exposures while handling antimicrobial pesticides reported using eye protection. Reported symptoms were mostly mild and temporary. One fatality due to acute asthma and subsequent cardiopulmonary collapse was identified. Health-care facilities should educate workers about antimicrobial pesticide hazards, promote the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) as appropriate, and implement effective risk communication strategies for antimicrobial pesticide use to prevent bystander exposure. Improved design of handling equipment might prevent handler and bystander exposure.
Approximately 5,000 antimicrobial pesticide products are registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and approximately 60% of these are targeted to control infectious microorganisms in health-care settings.
Antimicrobial pesticide products are formulated into sprays, liquids, concentrated powders, and gases. Occupational exposure to disinfectants (e.g., glutaraldehyde), cleaning products (e.g., bleach), or sanitizers (e.g., quarternary ammonium compounds [QACs]) can cause acute irritant symptoms, respiratory and skin sensitization, and asthma. Although information on the risks for occupational exposure to antimicrobial pesticides is available, little is known about the magnitude and characteristics of acute antimicrobial pesticide illnesses among workers in health-care facilities.”
as i always tell my students, READ the LABEL (& MSDS) first! it’s sad when even medical
facilities can’t comply with OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard.