December 2017: Homero Harari Awarded NIH (RO1) to Study Cleaning Chemical Exposures among the NYC Latino Community

P30 Center Member, Homero Harari, was an NIH Research Project Grant Program (R01) awardee for his study “Safe and Just Cleaners: Reducing exposure to toxic cleaning chemical products among low wage immigrant Latino community members.” Recent research has documented the health impacts of common cleaning chemicals, including skin and respiratory irritation and asthma, as well as potential reproductive effects and cancer. Nonetheless, the production and distribution of these products continues to expand. In response public health actions have aimed to reduce exposures through substituting use of environmentally safer products in public buildings and schools and encouraging development of certified environmentally safer product labels. While these initiatives have been successful at reaching certain groups of workers and consumers, low wage domestic and other cleaning workers have been largely left out due to factors including knowledge, awareness, cost and accessibility. The Safe and Just Cleaners/Limpieza Sana y Justa Project aims to reduce this environmental health disparity by documenting exposures to cleaning agents among cleaning workers in the Latino immigrant worker community in NYC, as part of a collaborative University-Community partnership. The project will collect survey data to document exposures, values, knowledge and attitudes about potential hazards and self-reported health problems associated with the use of chemicals in consumer cleaning products among immigrant Latino workers. The project will then identify and evaluate, qualitatively and quantitatively, the conditions that can result in inhalation and dermal exposures to these products among immigrant Latino domestic cleaning workers. These findings will be used to develop and implement a multilevel strategic campaign to reduce exposures among low-wage Latino immigrant communities through local and national partnerships. Embedding this campaign within a workers’ rights and social justice perspective provides an approach that educates people about safer alternatives while simultaneously pursuing broader programmatic and policy initiatives to directly address the multi-layered influences of cleaners’ and the general public’s actions towards cleaning chemicals.