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Nurses risk occupational asthma

Nurses are twice as likely as members of the general public to suffer from occupational asthma, research shows.

A global Lancet study carried out by Dr Manolis Kogevinas at the Municipal Institute of Medical Research in Spain followed participants for nine years and calculated their exposure to asthma-causing substances at work.  

Nurses had a 122% excessive risk of developing occupational asthma.

The scientists say this may be explained by exposure to sterilisers and disinfectants.

"Nurses could be exposed to sensitising substances, respiratory allergens, and irritants including sterilisers and disinfectants such as glutaraldehyde or bleach," say the researchers.

They added that although nurses' exposure to latex may have gone up as gloves became more commonly used during the early 1990s, exposure probably fell as the latex content in these products was reduced over time.

The researchers conclude: "Reduction of exposure, and early and complete identification of workers with symptoms suggestive of asthma, would help prevent the disease and effectively manage workers who develop occupational asthma."

The Lancet

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