The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Allergic to Cleaning? Chemicals Could Cause Sensitivity

30 September 2016 | Updated 01 January 1970

The British Medical (BMJ) Journal has published a paper on the sensitising effects of genetically modified enzymes used in cleaning chemicals, fragrances, flavours and pharmaceutical products looking closely at the potential for causing allergic reactions.

The paper was published online on September 21 It was produced in collaboration by a number of scientist from esteemed worldwide organisations.

The use of genetically engineered enzymes in the synthesis of flavourings, fragrances and other applications has increased tremendously. There is, however, a paucity of data on sensitisation and/or allergy to the finished products, wrote the team. We aimed to review the use of genetically modified enzymes and the enormous challenges in human biomonitoring studies with suitable assays of specific IgE to a variety of modified enzyme proteins in occupational settings and measure specific IgE to modified enzymes in exposed workers. (It should be noted that the study looked at both the manufacturing process and at the user end. Some recommendations for regular health monitoring were aimed the manufacturing/high exposure.)



Our data confirms that genetically engineered enzymes are potent allergens eliciting immediate-type sensitisation. Owing to lack of commercial diagnostic tests, few of those exposed receive regular surveillance including biomonitoring with relevant specific IgE assays.


What this paper adds

New developments of industrial processes in a variety of industries, fuelled by consumer pressure for low-fat foods and natural flavours, have resulted in an explosion in the production of flavours, fragrances and other industrial applications using enzyme technology. Engineering the enzyme protein may change its allergic properties, posing new potential health risk. A correlation between the workplace exposure, the level of sensitisation and respiratory symptoms was observed.

Brisman and Baur have shown up to 50% of workers studied developed conjunctivitis, rhino-conjunctivitis, asthma or hypersensitivity pneumonitis due to sensitisation. Most of the evidence comes from the detergent and food industries.

As enzymes are known to be allergenic, it is likely that the introduction of new enzymes or enzyme mixtures will increase the risk of allergy in the absence of preventive measures.

Picture: Are the cleaning chemicals used on your premises contributing to employee allergies?

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 30 September 2016


Related Articles

Managing Hay Fever in the Workplace

With hay fever affecting one in four adults, how can workplace managers ensure sufferers are comfortable at work during the hay fever season? Hay fever season usually...

 Read Full Article
Biovate Hygienics Introduces Paper Bottles for Cleaning Products

One of the world’s first plastic free paper bottles for commercial cleaning products has launched at The Cleaning Show. Biovate Hygienics’ “Zero...

 Read Full Article
Warnings Against Cost-Cutting When Procuring Cleaning Products

The rising cost of raw materials and the energy crisis are creating opportunities for “unscrupulous providers” of cleaning and hygiene products, says the...

 Read Full Article
Cleaning Trends for 2022

Cleaning product manufacturer and distributor Robert Scott has revealed the findings of its latest customer research, identifying the key trends that will dominate the...

 Read Full Article
Sustainable Cleaning in Facilities Management

Environmental concerns have to be taken into consideration to survive in the long term, and procuring sustainable cleaning supplies is one such way for FMs. Tim Bench...

 Read Full Article
Allergy Awareness Week - Optimising Indoor Air Quality for Hay Fever Sufferers 

As allergy season gets underway, an indoor air quality monitoring company is introducing pollen level tracking to its app, to help employers learn how to make the...

 Read Full Article
Amey to Introduce New Sustainable Cleaning Model

Amey’s Secure Infrastructure business is to introduce a fully sustainable cleaning solution across its FM operations.   The new cleaning model will...

 Read Full Article
Going Green – Choosing Sustainable Cleaning Supplies 

Distributor Janitorial Express is urging the industry to consider the environmental impact of its choice in cleaning supplies.  The cleaning industry...

 Read Full Article
Sustainability a Key Cleaning Trend for 2021

Increased sustainability is predicted to govern the cleaning practices used by businesses as they continue to manage the impact of the pandemic.  Other trends...

 Read Full Article
Unilever Commits to Cutting Fossil Fuels From Cleaning Products

Unilever is to spend €1bn removing fossil fuels from its product range, including brands such as Persil, Surf, Lux, Domestos, and Sunlight. They have pledged to...

 Read Full Article