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ACI study shows detergent manufacturers safely, effectively using enzymes in the workplace
Detergent manufacturers have shown that by following industry guidelines on the correct handling of enzymes in factories, they can deliver a safe working environment and help ensure good occupational hygiene, according to newly published research.
The study, which appeared in the peer-reviewed Journal of Occupational & Environmental Hygiene, examined procedures put in place at approximately 100 manufacturing facilities around the world, where enzymes are used to help formulate detergent products.
Knowing that properly controlling occupational exposure to enzymes is a necessity, enzyme and detergent makers have implemented over the years a successful product stewardship programme. Those companies, in coordination with their trade associations, have published technical guidances to promote the safe use of enzymes in the workplace, using both science-based risk assessment and risk management practices.
The American Cleaning Institute and the International Association for Soaps, Detergents & Maintenance Products (A.I.S.E.), which represents the European industry, have each developed guidance documents on occupational hygiene controls and health monitoring strategies for enzymes in the workplace.
Wanting to see if those manufacturing facilities that properly implemented the recommended safety guidelines were successful in managing the respiratory allergenic risks associated with enzymes, ACI and A.I.S.E. undertook a review of five years' worth of air monitoring and health surveillance data from industrial facilities that produced enzyme-containing detergents and which followed the guidelines.
"Our review found that by employing stringent protocols, coupled with regular surveillance of workforce health & safety, worker exposures to enzymes can be minimised and the risks associated with the use of enzymes in detergent factories can be effectively managed," says Dr. Francis Kruszewski, ACI senior director, Human Health & Safety, and one of the study's co-authors. "What we are seeing represents an industrial success story."
As the research paper notes: "Factories which have failed to follow good industrial hygiene practices have given rise to incidences of occupational allergy. The data show that by using the approaches described for the limitation of exposure, for the provision of good occupational hygiene and for the active monitoring of health, the respiratory allergenic risk associated with enzyme proteins can be successfully managed.
"In the five years of experience reviewed... results from air monitoring and health surveillance show that the companies involved have been able to meet the standards set by the broadly accepted industry guidelines."
The research paper, 'Managing the Risk of Occupational Allergy in the Enzyme Detergent Industry', is available on ACI's Science website.
ACI, which provided funding in support of this research, has an extensive history in supporting enzyme product stewardship. In 1999, the association (then The Soap & Detergent Association) published 'Work Practices for Handling Enzymes in the Detergent Industry' and 'Risk Assessment Guidance for Enzyme-Containing Products' in 2005.
Enzymes in laundry detergent products help break down complex stains and soils, including protein-based stains (grass and blood) and starch-based stains common to many foods. Enzymes can also improve the appearance and feel of fabrics. Enzymes are also used in many automatic dishwasher detergents to dissolve food and soil residue into small particles, which are then washed away.
30th July 2015