Constant hand washing in pandemic put GGD workers at slightly higher risk of breast cancer
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, GGD employees washed their hands with ethanol-containing disinfectant far too often. That has led to possible health risks, including a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer, AD reported based on a letter the GGDs wrote to their staff. "Research by the RIVM has now shown that frequent use of ethanol-containing hand gel can entail possible health risks," the GGD said in the letter.
Ethanol is carcinogenic. According to the health regulations, people can wash their hands with ethanol-containing products no more than 32 times a day. But during the pandemic, GGD employees did so far more often. For example, the GGD guideline stated that employees had to wash their hands after every person tested for Covid-19. One employee told the newspaper that they tested up to 150 people in a six-hour shift.
"The extra risk that you have run is very small," the GGD said in the letter, according to AD. "If you disinfect your hands 100 times a day, five days a week, for two years, the extra risk of developing breast cancer is estimated at 0.012 percent."
The health service adjusted its disinfected guidelines. Employees can now wash their hands with ethanol-containing disinfectants up to 25 times per day. Without using ethanol-containing hand sanitizers, women have about 143,000 in 100,000,000 chances of developing breast cancer in their lives. If they use ethanol hand sanitizers 25 times per working day for a year, that chance increases to 143,015 in 1 million, a spokesperson for GGD GHOR Nederland said to the newspaper.
"We had no intention of exceeding a limit. Our focus was entirely on protecting our employees against the coronavirus. An important measure was the regular disinfection of your hands."