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Occupational Health Watch: May 2021

Asthma-Safer Cleaning and Disinfecting Update

​The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated their guidance for when to clean and when to disinfect in non-healthcare facilities. The new guidance emphasizes that when no people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 are known to have been in an indoor setting within the last 24 hours, cleaning once a day is enough to keep a facility healthy.

When following this or any cleaning and disinfecting guidance it is important to know that disinfectants and cleaners often contain chemicals that can cause or trigger asthma.

janitor wearing face shield, face covering and gloves wiping a door handle 

During May's Asthma Awareness Month, we're highlighting the importance of choosing safer products and cleaning (PDF) and disinfecting (PDF) safely. Here are some tips:

  • As indicated in the guidance, disinfect only when necessary. Routine cleaning performed effectively with soap or detergent can substantially reduce virus and bacteria levels on indoor surfaces.

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a list of disinfectants that work to kill coronavirus. Choose hydrogen peroxide (without peracetic acid), lactic acid, citric acid, silver, or alcohol-based products whenever possible. These are not known to cause asthma.hands holding cleaning product bottle at an angle to read its ingredients

  • Use as much ventilation as possible. Open windows if needed.

  • Dilute products properly. Do not make them more concentrated than the labels say.

  • Follow recommendations on the label or the safety data sheet. This may include wearing gloves or goggles.

  • Choose fragrance-free cleaning products.


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