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Detergent enzymes in healthcare workspaces cause asthma and rhinitis

Detergent enzymes in healthcare workspaces cause asthma and rhinitis – 08/11

Researchers from the Centre for Workplace Health, Health and Safety Laboratory, Harpur Hill, Buxton, Derbyshire, UK, have found that detergent enzymes need to be recognised as potential respiratory sensitisers when used in healthcare settings, and institutions and professional bodies should review risk assessments to ensure that the best methods for preventing and reducing exposure are in place.

Proteolytic enzymes were introduced into washing powders in the 1960s to improve the cleaning power, and these microbial enzymes are now known to be potent respiratory sensitisers – causes of asthma and rhinitis. Six cases of work-related asthma or rhinitis occurred in areas used for cleaning medical instruments and endoscopy suites, and recognition of the hazard was not in place at these workplaces. Hygiene measurements confirmed the potential for exposure.

Source: Journal of Occupational Medicine

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First Published in August 2011

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