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Occup Environ Med. 2018 Sep;75(9):668-674. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2017-104793. Epub 2018 May 14.

Development of a bar code-based exposure assessment method to evaluate occupational exposure to disinfectants and cleaning products: a pilot study.

Author information

INSERM, VIMA: Aging and Chronic Diseases, Epidemiological and Public Health Approaches, U1168, F-94807, Villejuif, France.
UVSQ, UMR-S 1168, University Versailles St-Quentin-en-Yvelines, F-78180, Montigny le Bretonneux, France.
ProdHyBase, CClin Sud-Est, Saint-Genis-Laval, France.
Faculty of Medicine, University Paris-Sud, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France.
Epiconcept, Paris, France.
ProdHyBase, Unit of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Hospices Civils de Lyon, Pierre-Bénite, France.
AP-HP UVSQ, Equipe opérationnelle d'hygiène hospitalière, University Hospital of Poincaré, Garches, France.
INSERM, CNRS, Université Grenoble Alpes, U1209, Institute for Advanced Biosciences (IAB), Team of Environmental Epidemiology Applied to Reproduction and Respiratory Health, Grenoble (La Tronche), France.
AP-HP UVSQ, Occupational Health Unit/Population-Based Epidemiological Cohorts Unit, UMS 011, University Hospital of Poincaré, Garches, France.



Healthcare workers are highly exposed to various types of disinfectants and cleaning products. Assessment of exposure to these products remains a challenge. We aimed to investigate the feasibility of a method, based on a smartphone application and bar codes, to improve occupational exposure assessment among hospital/cleaning workers in epidemiological studies.


A database of disinfectants and cleaning products used in French hospitals, including their names, bar codes and composition, was developed using several sources: ProdHyBase (a database of disinfectants managed by hospital hygiene experts), and specific regulatory agencies and industrial websites. A smartphone application has been created to scan bar codes of products and fill a short questionnaire. The application was tested in a French hospital. The ease of use and the ability to record information through this new approach were estimated.


The method was tested in a French hospital (7 units, 14 participants). Through the application, 126 records (one record referred to one product entered by one participant/unit) were registered, majority of which were liquids (55.5%) or sprays (23.8%); 20.6% were used to clean surfaces and 15.9% to clean toilets. Workers used mostly products with alcohol and quaternary ammonium compounds (>90% with weekly use), followed by hypochlorite bleach and hydrogen peroxide (28.6%). For most records, information was available on the name (93.7%) and bar code (77.0%). Information on product compounds was available for all products and recorded in the database.


This innovative and easy-to-use method could help to improve the assessment of occupational exposure to disinfectants/cleaning products in epidemiological studies.


cleaning products; hospital workers; occupational exposure; smartphone application

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