Occupational Health Watch: May 2020
Asthma-Safer Cleaning and Disinfecting
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance to clean and disinfect more frequently at home and at work. People may not realize that products such as disposable disinfectant wipes and common cleaners often contain hazardous chemicals. This may help explain the 20% increase in calls to U.S. poison centers about cleaning and disinfecting products over the last few months.
During May's Asthma Awareness Month, we're highlighting the importance of cleaning and disinfecting safely, since some products contain chemicals that can cause or worsen asthma. They can also cause health effects such as eye damage, skin burns, and rash. Here are some tips:
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.
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.
Also, disinfection is not always necessary. For example, you can clean up a drink spill, a dusty bookshelf, or a muddy floor using water and a microfiber cloth.
Work-Related Asthma, Cleaning Products, and Disinfectants – OHB topic page
Reminders for Using Disinfectants at Schools and Child Cares (PDF) | Spanish – California Department of Pesticide regulation InfoSheet
Fragrances and Work-Related Asthma – OHB topic page
Cleaning for Asthma-Safe Schools (CLASS) – OHB topic page
Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program (WRAPP) – OHB website
Photo: Janitor cleans front door of an oven