Regular use of chemical disinfectants and cleaning products may be a risk factor for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in nurses, according to research results published in JAMA Network Open.

The study included women from the Nurses’ Health Study II who were working as nurses and had no history of COPD prior to 2009. Information on the types of nursing job, general disinfection tasks, and the use of disinfectant sprays was obtained via biennial questionnaires. Disinfectants and cleaning products were broken down into 7 categories: formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, hypochlorite bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, quaternary ammonium compounds, and enzymatic cleaners. The frequency of cleaning or spray use was also examined.

A total of 73,262 women were eligible for analysis (mean age, 54.7±4.6 years; 96% white) of whom 5.7% were current smokers. Participants were asked to report any diagnosed condition(s) that had occurred since the previous questionnaire cycle, including emphysema or chronic bronchitis. This information was used to identify incident cases of physician-diagnosed COPD from 2009 to 2015.