Scientist looking forward

The Environmental Health of Latinas in Cleaning Occupations

girl_guy_cleaningExposures to common chemicals with adverse health effects including cancer and endocrine disruption can occur from everyday contact with cleaning products. These often contain a “chemical soup” of ingredients that are not required to be tested for safety by any federal agency before going to market. Females are particularly susceptible to potential effects of chemicals in cleaning products, as they typically have higher exposures both in the home and in domestic services occupations. In the United States, 90.1 percent of 1,512,000 maids and housekeeping cleaners are female, and of those 49.3 percent are Latino or Hispanic (U.S. Department of Labor, 2017).

For this population, knowledge about health risks associated with occupational cleaning may be limited by lack of professional job training, unavailability of safety materials in non-English languages, and lack of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves. The purpose of this study is to first explore the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of a bicultural population of Latina women from different countries of origin and acculturation levels and second, to understand their environmental health needs. This is a growing public health concern, as Latinos comprise 17.8% of the estimated U.S. population, and is expected to reach 27.5% by the year 2060, which is an increase of 93.2% from 2016 to 2060 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018).

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