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Development of a bar code-based exposure assessment method to evaluate occupational exposure to disinfectants and cleaning products: a pilot study


Objective Healthcare workers are highly exposed to various types of disinfectants and cleaning products. Assessment of exposure to these products remains a challenge. We aimed to investigate the feasibility of a method, based on a smartphone application and bar codes, to improve occupational exposure assessment among hospital/cleaning workers in epidemiological studies.

Methods A database of disinfectants and cleaning products used in French hospitals, including their names, bar codes and composition, was developed using several sources: ProdHyBase (a database of disinfectants managed by hospital hygiene experts), and specific regulatory agencies and industrial websites. A smartphone application has been created to scan bar codes of products and fill a short questionnaire. The application was tested in a French hospital. The ease of use and the ability to record information through this new approach were estimated.

Results The method was tested in a French hospital (7 units, 14 participants). Through the application, 126 records (one record referred to one product entered by one participant/unit) were registered, majority of which were liquids (55.5%) or sprays (23.8%); 20.6% were used to clean surfaces and 15.9% to clean toilets. Workers used mostly products with alcohol and quaternary ammonium compounds (>90% with weekly use), followed by hypochlorite bleach and hydrogen peroxide (28.6%). For most records, information was available on the name (93.7%) and bar code (77.0%). Information on product compounds was available for all products and recorded in the database.

Conclusion This innovative and easy-to-use method could help to improve the assessment of occupational exposure to disinfectants/cleaning products in epidemiological studies.

  • cleaning products
  • smartphone application
  • occupational exposure
  • hospital workers

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