Self-reports show hospital workers misjudge chemical exposure: study

April 27, 2011

Villejuif, France – Hospital workers may underestimate their exposure to chemicals such as formaldehyde and ammonia in cleaning and disinfecting products, indicates research from the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health.

As part of the Epidemiological Study of the Genetics and Environment of Asthma, 176 hospital workers were asked about tasks and cleaning and disinfecting agents to determine the accuracy of self-reports. Compared to expert assessments, workers underestimated their exposure to formaldehyde, ammonia, alcohol and quaternary ammonium components, according to a study abstract.

Researchers also observed a lack of knowledge of product components, and said the results highlight the need for health education programs on the occupational risks caused by cleaning products.

The research appeared online in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.