Nurses are more than twice as likely as the general population to develop occupational asthma, conclude authors of an article published in this week’s edition of the Lancet.

Manolis Kogevinas, MD, PhD, of the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, Municipal Institute of Medical Research, Barcelona, said that nurses were at a 122% increased risk due to contact with substances in common use in their profession.

“Nurses could be exposed to sensitising substances, respiratory allergens, and irritants, including sterilisers and disinfectants such as glutaraldehyde or bleach,” Kogevinas said.

The study added that although in the early 1990s nurses’ exposure to latex may have increased as gloves were used more often than before, the exposure probably declined as the amount of latex in these products was cut down over time.