CDC warns of anti-microbial pesticide risks

May 27, 2010

An analysis of anti-microbial pesticide exposure in health care facilities in four states identified 401 cases, one of which was fatal, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Anti-microbial pesticides are chemicals such as sterilizers, disinfectants and sanitizers used to destroy harmful microorganisms on objects. Data from California, Louisiana, Michigan and Texas showed exposure occurred most often among janitors and housekeepers (24 percent) and nursing and medical assistants (16 percent), the report said. About half of the injuries resulted from splashes and spills, and eyes were the most common organ affected.

Symptoms were usually mild and temporary, but a 52-year-old asthmatic laundry worker at a nursing home died after being exposed to undiluted bleach fumes for 10-15 minutes.

CDC recommends choosing less hazardous products, training employees, and encouraging them to report and seek treatment for anti-microbial-related injuries.