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2017 HHE of Chemical Exposure at a Hospital Case Study

Note: The hospital in this case study is not specified because NIOSH HHE reports do not identify employers by name. See for more information.

When hospital employees experienced symptoms such as burning eyes, nose bleeds, headaches, dizziness, and skin rashes, they became concerned that the adverse health effects were the result of exposure to a sporicidal product containing hydrogen peroxide, peracetic acid, and acetic acid. The employees submitted a confidential request to NIOSH for an HHE.

NIOSH responded by visiting the hospital to observe workers carrying out their cleaning tasks, collected samples, and discussed procedures for recording injuries and illnesses with the appropriate hospital representatives. NIOSH returned to the hospital multiple times over the course of several months to perform air sampling; assess the heating, air conditioning, and ventilation system; and administer surveys and a questionnaire.

Based on the findings of the HHE, NIOSH proposed a series of recommendations for the hospital to implement. Among the recommendations, NIOSH suggested that the hospital minimize the use of the sporicidal products in non-patient care areas, dilute the product properly, reduce vapors that can be inhaled, provide gloves to use when handling the product, ventilate work areas properly, comply with OSHA regulations on recording injuries, and better accommodate workers who develop symptoms due to exposure.