Hispanic women working as domestic cleaners are subject to both environmental and occupational hazards because of where they live and work, and this makes this particular group of Hispanics especially vulnerable. To our knowledge, studies have not examined the health impact of exposures to volatile organic compounds (VOC) among Hispanic women who both live in environmental justice neighborhoods and work as domestic cleaners. Despite their large numbers in this country, US labor laws generally exclude domestic cleaners and thus they have limited protections to, among other things: organize, earn minimum wage or overtime pay, have regular breaks, and a healthy and safe work environment. This is particularly true in Texas (TX) which ranks among the states with the highest number of these workers, yet their annual mean wage in TX is among the lowest in the nation. Also, domestic cleaners, particularly in South Texas, are overwhelmingly minorities and are primarily Hispanic or Latina women. Women working as domestic cleaners are subject to a number of environmental and occupational hazards. For example, exposure to hazardous chemicals in cleaning products, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which have been associated with respiratory outcomes (e.g., wheeze, asthma, upper/lower respiratory tract irritation). VOCs are also ubiquitous in the environment and the indoor and neighborhood environments represent important determinants of total personal exposure, even among occupationally exposed person. Thus, in addition to work-related VOC exposure, Hispanic women working as domestic cleaners may experience `double jeopardy', with potentially significant VOC exposures in their home environments. Our long-term goal is to reduce the burden of environmental and occupational hazards and related health outcomes among vulnerable Hispanic women. The objective of this study is to use a community-engaged approach to characterize individual, occupational, and neighborhood-level factors that influence personal air VOC exposure among this overburdened group of Hispanic women in San Antonio, Texas, and to explore associations between these exposures with biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress. We will achieve this goal through an ongoing academic-community partnership with a grassroots organization, Domsticas Unidas, an organization that provides outreach and educational activities targeted toward Hispanic, often undocumented, women working in San Antonio, primarily as domestic cleaners.
The aims of this study are to (1) Assess personal air VOC exposure and biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress among at-risk Hispanic women; (2) Evaluate key, potentially modifiable, determinants of personal air VOC exposure of at-risk Hispanic women at home and work, and; (3) Evaluate the association of personal air VOC exposure with biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress among at-risk Hispanic women.
Individuals working as domestic cleaners, particularly in South Texas, are overwhelmingly Hispanic or Latina women and subject to numerous environmental and occupational hazards, including exposure to potentially toxic chemicals in cleaning agents and ambient exposures to VOCs in their residential environment. To our knowledge, there have been no studies exploring the burden of total volatile organic compound (VOC) exposure, nor potential health outcomes, experienced by this vulnerable population, who may experience `double jeopardy' through exposures both at work and at home. We will build on an existing academic-community partnership to recruit 100 Hispanic women working as domestic cleaners in San Antonio TX and, using a community-engaged approach, assess these women's total personal air exposure to VOCs, characterize determinants of exposure, and explore associations between total personal air VOC exposure and biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress.