Cleaning and disinfecting environmental surfaces in health care: Toward an integrated framework for infection and occupational illness prevention

Am J Infect Control. 2015 May 1;43(5):424-34. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2015.01.029. Epub 2015 Mar 16.


Background: The Cleaning and Disinfecting in Healthcare Working Group of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, National Occupational Research Agenda, is a collaboration of infection prevention and occupational health researchers and practitioners with the objective of providing a more integrated approach to effective environmental surface cleaning and disinfection (C&D) while protecting the respiratory health of health care personnel.

Methods: The Working Group, comprised of >40 members from 4 countries, reviewed current knowledge and identified knowledge gaps and future needs for research and practice.

Results: An integrated framework was developed to guide more comprehensive efforts to minimize harmful C&D exposures without reducing the effectiveness of infection prevention. Gaps in basic knowledge and practice that are barriers to an integrated approach were grouped in 2 broad areas related to the need for improved understanding of the (1) effectiveness of environmental surface C&D to reduce the incidence of infectious diseases and colonization in health care workers and patients and (2) adverse health impacts of C&D on health care workers and patients. Specific needs identified within each area relate to basic knowledge, improved selection and use of products and practices, effective hazard communication and training, and safer alternatives.

Conclusion: A more integrated approach can support multidisciplinary teams with the capacity to maximize effective and safe C&D in health care.

Keywords: Asthma; Disinfection; Green cleaning; Infection prevention; Occupational exposure.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Decontamination / methods*
  • Disinfection / methods*
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Female
  • Health Facilities
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Infection Control / organization & administration*
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*