Frequent disinfectant use among nurses linked to increase in risk of developing COPD

Nurses who regularly use disinfectants are at a higher risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to new research presented at the European Respiratory Society's International Congress.

Researchers analyzed data from 55,185 female registered nurses. The nurses are enrolled in the US Nurses' Health Study II, which started in 1989. In 2009, they began following nurses with no history of COPD. They continued following the nurses until May 2017. Of the nurses included in the study population, 37 percent used disinfectants to clean surfaces on a weekly basis and 19 percent used disinfectants to clean medical instruments every week.

Over the study period, 663 nurses were diagnosed with COPD. Researchers assessed the nurses' exposure to disinfectants via a questionnaire and a matrix.

The observational study shows regular exposure to specific chemicals in disinfectants — at least once a week — was associated with a 22 percent to 32 percent increase in developing COPD.

Specifically, exposure to glutaraldehyde, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol and quaternary ammonium compounds were all associated with a 24 percent to 32 percent increase in risk of COPD.

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