270170 Chemical Exposure and Health Symptoms Among Cleaning Workers: A Pilot Study

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Soo-Jeong Lee, PhD, RN , School of Nursing, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Bora Nam, RN, MSN , School of Nursing, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Kevin Joiner, RN, MSN , School of Nursing, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
OiSaeng Hong, PhD, RN, FAAN , School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Background: Cleaning workers are at risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals such as corrosives, irritants, sensitizers, or neurotoxic agents from cleaning tasks. Limited studies assessed symptoms associated with chemical exposure among cleaning workers. The purpose of this study was to identify chemical-related symptoms and risk factors among cleaning workers. Methods: This cross-sectional study included 183 cleaning workers (participation rate: 49%) in a university hospital and a health sciences campus in Northern California. Data on demographics, job characteristics, chemical exposures, and chemical-related symptoms were collected by face-to-face interviews or self-administered questionnaires. Results: Fifty-six percent of the participants reported having experienced chemical-related symptoms during the past 12 months (13% daily, 8% weekly, 15% monthly, and 20% several times a year). The most commonly reported symptoms (monthly or more frequent) were upper respiratory (26%), followed by ocular (15%), neurological (13%), and lower respiratory (12%). Hospital custodians (36%; OR=1.43, 95% CI 0.603.41) and workers who performed patient area cleaning (44%; OR=2.01, 95% CI 0.854.75) were more likely to report chemical-related symptoms, compared to campus custodians (28%). Chemical-related symptoms were significantly associated with use of carpet cleaning products (OR=3.63, 95% CI 1.488.86), glass cleaning agents (OR=2.26, 95% CI 1.005.12), tasks using spray products (OR=2.06, 95% CI 1.034.11), and cleaning non-surgical procedure rooms (OR=2.96, 95% CI 1.147.59), after adjustment for gender and job title. Conclusions: Chemical-related symptoms are prevalent among cleaning workers. Prevention strategies should target to minimize chemical exposure from tasks associated with increased symptom prevalence.

Learning Areas:
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe symptoms associated with chemical exposure among cleaning workers. 2) Identify job factors associated with increased prevalence of chemical-related symptoms among cleaning workers. 3) Discuss the need for prevention strategies to minimize chemical exposure among cleaning workers

Keywords: Occupational Health, Hazards

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal of multiple research projects focusing on injury and illness prevention among healthcare workers.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.