My name is Paul Henneberger and I’m a senior
scientist in the NIOSH Division of Respiratory Disease Studies. Cleaning and disinfecting
are essential for infection control in healthcare. However, several years ago published reports
suggested that liberal use of cleaning and disinfecting chemicals contributed to the
onset of asthma in healthcare workers. To address this problem my colleague Abbas Virji
and I initiated a new project titled “Research to Inform the Prevention of Asthma in Healthcare”.
To date we have conducted extensive exposure monitoring in hospitals focusing on cleaning
and disinfecting chemicals. And we have also successfully surveyed over 2000 healthcare
workers asking them about their respiratory health and the tasks they perform in their
jobs. We are currently using the measurements we gathered in the field to estimate the exposures,
the occupational exposures of the survey participants. Next we will investigate whether those exposures
of the participants, in particular to the cleaning and disinfecting chemicals are associated
with the respiratory problems. While we still have many more years of work to complete we
remain hopeful that the findings from this project will indeed contribute to the prevention
of asthma in healthcare workers.