Exposure to aerosols during high-pressure cleaning and relationship with health effects

The National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark
Ann Agric Environ Med 2013;20(3):420–425
In different occupations cleaning has been identified as the work task causing the highest exposure to aerosol components. High pressure cleaning (hpc) is a cleaning method used in many environments and seems to be considered as a cleaning method causing high exposure. In the presented study, the literature concerning exposure to aerosols during hpc is reviewed. Only a few studies have been published about exposure to aerosols during hpc. Exposure during hpc has been measured on farms, at waste water treatment plants, at a chemical factory and for graffiti removers. High exposures to bacterial endotoxin or chemical components were found in these environments during hpc. Few cases have been published documenting acute health effects caused by exposure to microorganisms and endotoxin during hpc. High pressure cleaners are also used in private settings but no papers have been found about exposure or related health effects during work in private settings. The use of clean water during hpc is important since effluent water or roof-collected rain water can cause a higher exposure to bioaerosols and related health effects. However, tap water in some areas also seems to have a high content of endotoxin, and this too should be considered when deliberating the protection of the airways of workers. Different attempts have been made to reduce workers’ exposure and the health effects of exposure during hpc, among them the use of respiratory protection, ventilation and automation of work processes have been used with some degree of success. However, some of these studies only show tendencies. A high number of repeats seem to be necessary in order to obtain conclusive results. The material to be cleaned, as well as the degree of dirtiness, highly influences the exposure level; therefore, in comparative studies it is important also to consider these parameters. No study has been found which compares exposure during the use of different high pressure cleaners. The comparison of exposure levels during the use of different equipment for hpc and other cleaning methods are necessary steps for developing hygienic recommendations.