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(Lighting the Way to Less Toxic Living)


(Originally found on Medline Plus )

Wednesday , May 24, 2006

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Some cleaning products can worsen breathing problems in cleaning workers who have existing asthma or bronchitis, Spanish researchers report. "These findings suggest that asthma and chronic bronchitis in domestic cleaners may be, at least partly, irritant-aggravated," Dr. Jan-Paul Zock of the Municipal Medical Institute of Medical Research in Barcelona and his colleagues conclude. Recent research has found an increased risk of asthma and other breathing problems in cleaning workers, especially women, they note in their report in the European Respiratory Journal. Bleach and some other cleaning products also have been tied to work-related asthma.

In a study of 43 women with asthma or chronic bronchitis who worked as domestic cleaners, Zock's team found that women were more likely to have lower respiratory tract symptoms including cough, chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath on the days when they worked cleaning others' homes. The more hours a woman spent working on a particular day, the more likely she was to have these symptoms. While there was no association between working days and upper respiratory symptoms such as blocked nose, throat irritation and watery eyes, these symptoms were associated with vacuuming as well as the use of degreasing sprays or atomizers.

Women were nearly three times as likely to have lower respiratory tract symptoms on the days when they used diluted bleach, degreasing sprays or atomizers, or air freshening sprays or atomizers, the researchers found. Reductions in lung function were tied to the use of ammonia, bleach and degreasing sprays. Lung function tests suggested that 30 percent of the women had work-related asthma, the researchers found, although it was not possible to distinguish between existing asthma and newly occurring asthma in the current study.

Further study is needed, the researchers conclude, to investigate the effects of cleaning products on lung function and symptoms in other categories of cleaning workers, as well as the general population.

SOURCE: European Respiratory Journal, Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited.

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Date last updated: 25 May 2006



Reuters Health, Wednesday, February 27, 2008

By Amy Norton

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Children exposed to cleaning products and other household chemicals before or after birth may be at increased risk of breathing problems, results of a study published Wednesday hint. British researchers found that young children whose mothers frequently used household chemicals during pregnancy were at greater risk of wheezing than their peers. The more often their mothers used products like bleach, disinfectants, glass cleaner and insect sprays, the greater the children's odds of developing a wheezing problem by age 7.

The findings, published in the European Respiratory Journal, do not prove that household chemicals directly caused the children's lung problems. The researchers tried to account for a number of variables in children's wheezing risk -- like mothers' smoking during pregnancy or household pets. But other "confounding" factors could be at play, according to lead researcher Dr. John Henderson of the University of Bristol. "We can only state that there is an association between frequent use of this range of products, and the message should probably be 'use in moderation,'" he told Reuters Health.

The findings are based on 7,162 UK children who were followed from birth. During pregnancy, their mothers were asked how frequently they used various household chemicals, from "not at all" to "every day." After their children were born, mothers were periodically asked about any wheezing symptoms the child had developed. Overall, children's risk of wheezing climbed in tandem with mothers' use of household chemicals, the investigators found.

Although mothers were asked about cleaning product use during pregnancy, Henderson said his team suspects that children's exposure to such chemicals after birth, rather than prenatal exposure, may be the problem. Mothers who used household chemicals frequently during pregnancy tended to do so over time as well. It's possible that breathing the products irritates young children's airways and causes inflammation, Henderson explained.

It's not clear, however, which home products might be the "culprit," the researcher noted. "Until the effects are better understood, we cannot recommend substituting any particular product with safer alternatives," Henderson said. And while "natural" cleaning products, like vinegar or lemon juice, might be safer, he noted, there is no research on whether they are better or worse for children's respiratory health.

SOURCE: European Respiratory Journal, March 2008. Reuters Health


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