Regular use of disinfectants is linked to a higher risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to new research looking at incidence of the disease in over 55,000 nurses in the USA.
Dr Orianne Dumas (PhD) from INSERM, Villejuif, France, will tell the European Respiratory Society International Congress today (Monday) that certain tasks involving frequent exposure to disinfectants, such as cleaning surfaces, and specific chemicals in disinfectants, were associated with a 22% to 32% increased risk of developing COPD.
The nurses' exposure to disinfectants was evaluated via a questionnaire and a matrix that assigns exposure to disinfectants by job or task. The results were adjusted for factors that might affect the outcome, such as smoking, age, body mass index and ethnicity."
While "Dr Dumas emphasises that, as this is an observational study, the findings cannot show that disinfectants cause COPD, only that there is an association between some disinfectants and the development of the disease.", I suggest it would be wise to take precautions, given our increased use of disinfecting products to reduce our risk of infection. Given that wearing a mask will probably do very little to remove the chlorine and ammonia released from bleaches and disinfectants, I recommend that we ensure that there is plenty of fresh air when we are cleaning.
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