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Your Environment. Your Health.

Safe and Just Cleaners: Reducing Exposure to Toxic Cleaning Chemical Products Among Low-Wage Immigrant Latino Community Members

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

Study Location: New York City, New York

Study Website

Academic Partners:
Queens College, Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment
Sherry Baron, M.D.
Isabel Cuervo, Ph.D.

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Homero Harari, Sc.D.
Allan Just, Ph.D.
Gary Winkel, Ph.D.

University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Margaret Quinn, Sc.D.

Community Partners:
Make the Road New York
Javier Gallardo
Jamie San Andres
Zuleima Dominguez

Project Description

Safe and Just Project Team

Project team members pose for a picture next to the “River of Life” partnership drawing. The activity was adapted from Nina Wallerstein and her Engage for Equity project project.
(Photo courtesy of Sherry Baron, M.D.)

This project aims to document and reduce exposures to chemical agents among low-wage, domestic cleaning workers in New York City who are disproportionately Latinx immigrants. The term Latinx is now used instead of Latino or Latina to be inclusive of all genders.

Although environmental health initiatives have been successful in reaching certain groups of consumers and workers about safer chemical alternatives, the Latinx immigrant community often experiences environmental health disparities due to lack of knowledge and awareness, or limited accessibility to safer cleaning alternatives.

The Safe and Just Cleaners Project aims to address these disparities through a university-community partnership. Investigators will partner with the largest Latinx immigrant community-based organization in New York City, Make the Road New York, to survey Latinx domestic cleaning workers about cleaning product use, work practices, knowledge and attitudes about potential hazards, and self-reported health problems associated with the use of consumer cleaning products.

Safe And Just Workers

Two domestic workers point to their drawings from a mapping activity. This activity can help determine the best way to elicit information about cleaning products through a survey.
(Photo courtesy of Sherry Baron, M.D.)

This partnership will provide a foundation for building a joint worker-community effort to build domestic cleaners’ capacity to recognize their exposures, improve working conditions, and reduce exposures to hazardous cleaning agents in the larger Latinx immigrant community.

Specific project aims are to:

  • Evaluate working conditions, knowledge, and attitudes about consumer cleaning product use that result in inhalation and skin exposure to toxic components of consumer cleaning agents.
  • Measure workers’ exposure during cleaning and any residual exposures that may contaminate home environments.
  • Develop and implement a multi-level public health campaign to inform Latinx domestic cleaners and their communities about safer alternatives, thereby reducing exposure to toxic cleaning agents.
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