WHEN YOUR HOME IS MY WORKPLACE: DOMICILIARY CARE WORKERS AND EXPOSURE TO SECOND-HAND TOBACCO SMOKE
R. Dobson, R. O. O'Donnell, D. Eadie, S. Semple
University of Stirling, UK
Second-hand smoke (SHS) is harmful to health. Since 2006/7 the UK has reduced the number of workers exposed to SHS significantly. Data from Scotland indicates the proportion of non-smoking adults exposed to SHS has fallen from 83% to 19%, with most of this reduction the result of legal restrictions in workplaces and social settings. However, domiciliary care workers (DCWs) in the UK are not protected from exposure to SHS at work, as their work involves visits to other people's homes.
In this study, we aimed to assess the extent of exposure to SHS among DCWs in Lanarkshire, Scotland.
We conducted direct personal exposure monitoring (PEM) with DCWs across three organisations providing domestic care. Additionally, we surveyed DCWs in those organisations on their experiences of SHS in the workplace, and conducted qualitative interviews with workers and managers on experiences of SHS exposure and existing & potential mitigation strategies.
PEM results were received from 32 DCWs, comprising 82 home visits. Fine particulate pollution (PM2.5, associated with SHS) was above WHO guideline in 21% of home visits. The median concentration of PM2.5 during visits was 4µg/m³, but 12µg/m³ when DCWs reported an odour of SHS in the home. 71% of surveyed DCWs reported SHS exposure as part of their work. DCWs and managers reported concern for workers’ health.
DCWs are exposed to SHS during a significant fraction of home visits, and these exposures may create risks to health. Additional measures are needed to protect DCWs from SHS exposure.