Chats around the cleaning trolley provide inspiration for research projects

A pink cleaning trolley is an unusual sight. But even if the colour is the first thing to catch your eye, it is not the pink gleam that makes people stop and talk.

Patrik NilssonThe cleaning trolley is a rolling exhibit at Gilla jobbet, a work environment fair in Stockholm, and Patrik Nilsson is the man pushing it around. He is doing a PhD in aerosol technology at LTH and wants to prompt discussion of the working environment for cleaners in order to plan future research projects. There is a lot of interest from visitors.

“This is an opportunity for researchers to come into contact with the professional group that we want to study. We want to find out how they view the problems in their work environment and use that as a starting point for our research”, says Patrik Nilsson.

The cleaning trolley is equipped with instruments that measure the particles that are spread in the air when we use cleaning sprays. Patrik Nilsson sprays a product and immediately the figure on the display shoots up. Those standing around the trolley are surprised at the high levels.

“Goodness, that’s high!” says a health and safety representative in the small crowd that has gathered around the cleaning trolley.

All particles released into the indoor air are breathed in by people. Getting particles in the airways isn’t necessarily dangerous, but because cleaners are more likely to suffer from asthma and respiratory problems than other professions, there may be a connection between particles and their health.

“Cleaners often come into contact with harmful substances in their work. Choosing the right methods and products is therefore important if they are to avoid being exposed to harm”, says Patrik Nilsson.

One aim of the forthcoming research is to identify appropriate limits for the quantity of particles that a cleaning spray can release into the air without it representing a health hazard.

“With our research, we can find out to what extent the particles get stuck in the airways and what impact they have on health. This knowledge will give us good opportunities to present recommendations of appropriate levels and thus improve the work environment for cleaners”, says Patrik Nilsson.

Text: Jessika Sellergren

Photo: Jonas Jakobsson

FACTS ABOUT: This is the second time that the Division of Ergonomics and Aerosol Technology at LTH has attended Gilla jobbet. Exhibitions and seminars on future health care, nanoparticles and the spread of disease provide opportunities for contact between the research community and visiting authorities, decision-makers and various professional groups.

“It is important for us to gather viewpoints on our research from the broad target group at Gilla jobbet. They can put questions directly to us and we can tell visitors about our results”, says Professor Mats Bohgard, research leader at Ergonomics and Aerosol Technology.