Regular Use of Disinfectants May Increase Risk of Chronic Lung Disorder

Disinfectants May Increase Risk of Chronic Lung Disorder

A recent study reported that nurses who used disinfectants to clean surfaces at least once a week had a 24% to 32% increased risk of developing COPD over the course of eight years as compared to nurses who used these products less frequently. 

New research suggests that using too much of disinfectants may increase the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The link was observed even after researchers made adjustments for other COPD risk factors such as age, smoking status, body mass index, and ethnicity. “Our findings provide further evidence of the effects of exposure to disinfectants on respiratory problems, and highlight the urgency of integrating occupational health considerations into guidelines for cleaning and disinfection in healthcare settings such as hospitals,” said study author Orianne Dumas, a pulmonologist at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research.

During the course of study, a total of 663 nurses were diagnosed with COPD. One-third used disinfectants to clean surfaces on a weekly basis. The study identified glutaraldehyde, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, and quaternary ammonium compounds as the main chemicals linked to COPD risk. Results of the study were published at the European Respiratory Society International Congress on September 2017. Results were based on data from 55,185 registered nurses with no history of COPD prior to the study start. The nurses were under observation for about eight years.

Accidentally mixing a product containing ammonia with one that contains bleach can produce dangerous gas that can be deadly if inhaled. However, this new study is the first to show a link between cleaning products, and specifically COPD, among healthcare workers. According to Sterilization Equipment and Disinfectants Market report published by Coherent Market Insights, disinfection targets narrow spectrum bacteria leaving bacterial spores intact, while sterilization works on broad spectrum micro-organisms. However, there are risks associated with excessive use of disinfectants. The study concluded that a link exists between using certain cleaning products and increased COPD risk. Researchers believe that oxidative stress and neutrophilic inflammation caused by inhaling cleaning products may have a role in COPD pathogenesis. However, more research is required to understand the precise agents that may be harmful.

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