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Disinfectant fog is not your friend

While a paramedic is providing care for you in an ambulance, he or she may be getting sick themselves.

A new disinfectant machine used by the Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corporation (MONOC) in New Jersey has caused complaints by some emergency workers, reported NJ.com, Dec. 25.

In May 2009, MONOC started pumping ambulances with the disinfectant machine [1]that released pesticide fog. The dry mist has the ability to sterilize areas that may be unreachable with liquid disinfectant spraying.

The Professional Emergency Medical Services Association of New Jersey (PEMSA) started to get complaints from those who came in contact with the disinfected ambulance, complaining of nausea, migraines, headaches, eye and skin irritation, according to NJ.com. Deborah Ehling, who is the union’s president, said the disinfectant chemical being used is called Zimek QD.

However, Ehling and other industry experts are saying that the chemical itself isn’t causing the symptoms, but the method that’s being used to disinfect is the problem. According to NJ.com, the method being used includes taking the disinfectant solution and altering it into atomized particles that blow into the ambulances as a fog.

It begs the question if the fog is safe enough for exposure to humans. Labor and environmental advocacy groups feel that the way the fog is emitted violates the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), reported NJ.com. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is unable to distinguish if the fog is safe for humans once it turns into the dry mist.

MONOC performed tests on its ambulances to show that chemicals were below acceptable limits. OSHA also did tests on each ambulance. The investigation is ongoing, and MONOC is not using any of the machines until the investigation is complete, reported NJ.com.

Have you had a similar experience where technology caused unintended and possibly harmful consequences in your healthcare setting? Let us know in our comment section below.