Lesson 3 Chemical factors

  • Chemical factors are a large group of chemical substances with a potential to cause harm to life or health. Health effects of exposure to chemicals are numerous and typical for specific substance. There are also several routes of possible exposure:
    • Inhalation (gas, vapour, mist, dust, fumes, smoke). When you perform physical work in polluted environment, there is higher risk of exposure in comparison to sedentary work, due to greater volume of beathed air. Research shows that cleaners may be exposed to chemicals from cleaning products that enter their bodies through respiratory tract due to inhalation of volatile organic compounds (VOC) vapours and aerosols generated from product spraying.
  • Other routes of exposure include:
    • Skin contact. This is a very popular route of exposure for cleaners. There are several research reporting proven cases of dermal exposures (mostly through hands) to mixtures of many chemicals used in cleaning.
    • Ingestion. Chemicals can enter the organism as an effect of consumption with food or drink being a result of poor hygienic practice (contaminated hands or clothes touching food) or may be accidentally swallowed.
    • Injection. This is uncommon route for occupational exposure, however possible when worker experienced needlestick with a needle contaminated with a chemical substance, which as a result entered workers’ body.


Dangerous for environment





Harmful irritant

Compressed gas

Health hazard

Fig. 4. Symbols for different types of chemical hazards
Source: Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures, amending and repealing Directives 67/548/EEC and 1999/45/EC, and amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 (Text with EEA relevance) Text with EEA relevance