Characterization of cleaning and disinfecting tasks and product use among hospital occupations

Am J Ind Med. 2015 Jan;58(1):101-11. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22393. Epub 2014 Oct 28.


Background: Healthcare workers have an elevated prevalence of asthma and related symptoms associated with the use of cleaning/disinfecting products. The objective of this study was to identify and characterize cleaning/disinfecting tasks and products used among hospital occupations.

Methods: Workers from 14 occupations at five hospitals were monitored for 216 shifts, and work tasks and products used were recorded at five-minute intervals. The major chemical constituents of each product were identified from safety data sheets.

Results: Cleaning and disinfecting tasks were performed with a high frequency at least once per shift in many occupations. Medical equipment preparers, housekeepers, floor strippers/waxers, and endoscopy technicians spent on average 108-177 min/shift performing cleaning/disinfecting tasks. Many occupations used products containing amines and quaternary ammonium compounds for >100 min/shift.

Conclusions: This analysis demonstrates that many occupations besides housekeeping incur exposures to cleaning/disinfecting products, albeit for different durations and using products containing different chemicals.

Keywords: asthma; cleaning products; cleaning tasks; disinfecting chemicals; healthcare workers.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Communicable Disease Control / methods
  • Detergents / chemistry
  • Detergents / therapeutic use
  • Disinfectants / chemistry
  • Disinfectants / therapeutic use
  • Disinfection / methods
  • Disinfection / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Personnel / classification
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Housekeeping, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Material Safety Data Sheets
  • New England
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Southeastern United States


  • Detergents
  • Disinfectants