Nurses at risk from on-the-job chemicals

A new study released by an environmental group suggests that chemicals used to clean hospitals and treat patients could be harming nurses. The study, by the Environmental Working Group and Health Care Without Harm, looked at nursing exposure to 11 common chemicals use in healthcare, including anesthesia gas, hand disinfectants, cleaning agents and chemicals used for sterilization.

The study concluded that regular on-the-job chemical exposure increased cancer, asthma and miscarriage rates for nurses. Even worse, pregnant nurses exposed to these chemicals were more likely to have birth defects than nurses who weren't exposed. Despite such risks, the study noted, there are few regs in place to limit nurses' exposure to such chemicals. Not only that, researchers said, nurses may not be aware that job-related chemical exposure could be an issue.

To find out more about this issue:
- read this San Francisco Chronicle article