Some very disturbing news is exposed in the San Francisco Chronicle today. We all know that as nurses we are exposed to chemicals, germs, and a whole lot of unknown problems everyday. It’s just part of the risks we take to help others. But how much exposure is too much? And what is being done to protect us?
The results of an online survey of 1500 nurses in the U.S. conducted by the Environmental Working Group and Health Care Without Harm shows that nurses are being affected by their exposure to eleven common health care chemicals.
These common chemicals include:
- hand disinfectants
- cleaning agents
- chemotherapy drugs and antiretrovirals
- gasses used in anesthesia
- products containing mercury
- shampoos and soaps
- chemicals used to sterilize equipment
The results of the survey show that nurses who were regularly exposed to these chemicals had increased rates of asthma, cancer and miscarriages. Pregnant nurses exposed to these chemicals regularly throughout the pregnancy had an increased rate of birth defects.
The study was informal and the results may be affected by this, but none the less, long term exposure is not healthy. Nurses need to be aware and be proactive in working with their facilities and legislators to improve work conditions.