Hospital, treatment rooms or clinic
This information is for people that work as healthcare professionals, healthcare assistants and care home workers. It gives information on things in the workplace that could damage the lungs and advice on how to protect them.
What are the hazards?
These are some of the hazards you may come into contact with at work.
- Benzalkonium chloride (quaternary ammonium compound) - found in disinfectants and cleaners for floors and hard surfaces
- Chlorine-based agents (sodium hypochlorite) - the main ingredient in bleach
- Chlorhexidine - a disinfectant used to prepare skin for surgery and to clean surgical instruments
- Chloramines - a chemical compound (mixture) that is created when certain cleaning products come into contact with urine and sweat
- Some scents within cleaning products such as limonene which gives some products a citrus smell
- Isothiazolinones - used in some washing up liquids and laundry washing liquids
Some types of surgery, using tools that produce heat from an electric current, can give off toxic gases, particles and vapours. These are usually invisible.
Biological agents are widely found in the natural environment, however some workplaces may use them intentionally. They include bacteria, viruses and fungi (mould). Some infectious lung diseases can be transmitted in the workplace particularly if you work in agriculture or with animals, or in a healthcare or gym.
Smoking is the biggest risk factor for lung conditions like COPD and lung cancer
If you smoke, you will be at a much higher risk of developing a lung condition.