Workplace Hazards and Injuries

Conventional Disinfection May Pose the Greatest Threat

Work may be hazardous to health in unexpected ways.

Per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, among the 10 jobs having the largest number of injuries with days away from work to recuperate are:

  • Nursing aides and orderlies
  • Janitors and cleaners

Those injuries resulted from overexertion when lifting objects or, in the case of nursing aides and orderlies, patients, and required about 5 days to recuperate. (1)

Less obvious but often greater harm comes from the use of conventional disinfectants.

Safety and Health magazine reported that COPDregular use of disinfectants by registered nurses may increase the incidence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by 22-32 percent. (2)

“We found that nurses who use disinfectants to clean surfaces on a regular basis – at least once a week – had a 22 percent increased risk of developing COPD,” researcher Dr. Orianne Dumas said.

Disinfectants included:

  • Glutaraldehyde (for disinfecting medical instruments)
  • Bleach
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Alcohol Quaternary ammonium compounds or “quats” (for disinfection of environmental surfaces)

Per the European Respiratory Journal:

“Disinfectant use has been associated with adverse respiratory effects among healthcare workers.” (3)

Per the science journal, Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology:

“Asthma due to cleaning products has been known for 20 years, and the interest in this topic is still large because of the number of cleaning workers with respiratory problems.” (4)

Hormone Hazards

Endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) are commonly found in antimicrobial and disinfecting products.

Per the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP):

“EDCs are chemicals that can alter hormonal signaling and have potential effects on developing reproductive and nervous systems, metabolism, and cancer.” (5)

How Bad is Disinfectant Exposure?

Given the health risks . i.e., COPD, Asthma, Endocrine Disruption . associated with regular use of common disinfectants, how serious is it?

“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease where airways in the lungs are damaged. It is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States.”

“In the United States, COPD was responsible for over 120,000 deaths in 2004 and is the only cause of death in the top five to have been increasing since 1990.” (6)

Re: cancer, in the US, 1,596,486 new cases of cancer were diagnosed, and 591,686 people died of cancer in 2014, the latest year for which incidence data are available the United States.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease. One of every four deaths in the United States is due to cancer. (7)

Time to Hold Your Breath?

No, of course not. Nor is it time to ignore the causes of infectious illness. Disinfection is vital to protect public health.

However, it is time to stop poisoning or making people sick while destroying pathogenic microbes. The safer alternative is using chemical-free TANCS® dry steam vapor sanitation.

Using just tap water, TANCS delivers low-moisture, high-temperature, penetrating steam to hard and soft washable surfaces to kill virtually all pathogens in 2-7 seconds of contact time – all without being hazardous to health.


  1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) and Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII).
  2. Safety & Health magazine. Use of disinfectants raises risk of COPD among nurses, September, 2017.
  3. European Respiratory Journal. Occupational exposure to disinfectants and asthma control in US nurses, October, 2017.
  4. Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Update on asthma and cleaning agents, April, 2017.
  5. Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP). Endocrine Disruptors and Asthma-Associated Chemicals in Consumer Products, 2012.
  6. International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Life expectancy and years of life lost in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Findings from the NHANES III Follow-up Study, April, 2009.
  7. Leading Cancer Cases and Deaths (Federal statistics on cancer incidence and deaths), CDC, 2014.