Work-Related Asthma and Mitigating Employee Exposures to Cleaning Chemicals and Disinfectants
The American Board of Industrial Hygiene® (ABIH®) reminds workers and industry of the need to address occupational exposures to respiratory irritants, allergens, and hazards.
Lansing, MI, March 12th, 2018 -- Asthma is a chronic lung disease that impacts millions of people across the globe. Unfortunately, the number of people with asthma continues to grow, and for many employees, work-related asthma, also known as occupational asthma, is a serious health concern.
Work-related asthma results from exposure to allergens or irritants on the job. Exposure to these substances can lead to new cases of asthma or worsen existing asthma in some people. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) details that more than 250 substances are known or believed to cause or exacerbate work-related asthma. These substances are found in many chemicals, including cleaning solutions and disinfectants.
In fact, the Occupational Health Branch of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has published information on this important topic for employers and employees. The agency’s Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program reports that it has found that nearly 10% of all work-related asthma cases were caused by exposure to cleaning products. Most of these cases had new asthma diagnoses that started only after the employee began work. Almost 20%, such as janitors, used cleaning products directly, and the other 80% of workers attributed their asthma symptoms to cleaning products having been used nearby.
“Cleaning chemicals, disinfectants, dusts, mold, plants, and animals are just a few of the many substances known to cause or aggravate asthma conditions in workers with the disease,” said Jeffrey Miller, CIH® and Chair of ABIH®. “It’s important for employers to minimize exposures to these substances for sensitive individuals. Work-related asthma not only reduces people’s quality of life, it also impacts productivity, absenteeism, medical costs, and employee turnover.”
Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs) work to identify and mitigate exposures to environmental asthma triggers. These professionals are uniquely qualified to help prevent exposure to asthma triggers, allergens, and respiratory irritants. CIHs are trained and experienced in many techniques, including workplace assessments, air sampling, risk analysis, and engineering and exposure controls. These and other core competencies that are central components of the Certified Industrial Hygienist program are critical for establishing and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment.
To learn more about the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®, Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential or to locate a CIH® to perform industrial hygiene services, please visit www.ABIH.org, email abih@ABIH.org or call (517) 321-2638.
About the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®
Since 1960, ABIH®, a not-for-profit corporation, has been the world's largest organization for certifying professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. ABIH® is the premier credentialing body responsible for ensuring high-quality certification including education, experience, examination, certification maintenance, and ethics enforcement. Currently, more than 6900 people in 32 countries are certified to use the CIH® credential.