A recent study conducted by U.S. scientists, supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and led by Brie Hawley has found that cleaning products and disinfectants containing hydrogen peroxide, peracetic acid, and acetic acid even in low concentrations can lead to eye and respiratory irritations. Their research examined cleaning personnel in a hospital and discovered chronic health problems among the staff. A new cleaning product had been introduced at the hospital 16 months earlier.
Hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid are strong oxidizing agents that are often used to sterilize instruments in operating rooms. For some time, it has been known that long-term exposure to both compounds can cause asthma. However, their effects on users in hospitals had not been studied enough previously. Particularly in hospitals, effective and reliable disinfectants are needed to avoid the spread of germs. As a result, the use of such products is a balancing act. The germs must be killed, but the staff needs adequate protection.