Spray Cleaners May Up Asthma Risk
Study Sees Asthma Link for Home Users of Chemical Cleaning Sprays
Oct. 12, 2007 -- Using spray home cleaning products, even as little as once
a week, may increase an adult's risk for developing asthma symptoms, a new
Frequent use of aerosolized chemical cleaners has previously been linked to
asthma in cleaning professionals. But the new study is the first to examine the
impact of exposure to spray cleaners on home users.
Researchers concluded that use of spray household cleaners may be an
important contributor to asthma in adults.
The risk of developing asthma increased with the frequency of use and the
number of different products used, but on average regular use of spray cleaners
and air fresheners was found to be associated with a 30% to 50% increase in
Researcher Jan-Paul Zock, PhD, says this finding means that as many as one
in seven asthma cases in adults may be caused by the use of spray cleaners.
"These findings must be confirmed, but it is clear that people need to
use caution when they use these products," he says.
Cleaners and Asthma
Zock and colleagues used data from the European Community Respiratory Health
Survey, one of the largest population-based studies of airway diseases ever
The study included more than 3,500 adults across 22 centers located in 10
European countries who reported doing the bulk of cleaning in their homes.
None of the participants -- two-thirds of whom were women -- had asthma when
they entered the study, but roughly 6% had developed asthma symptoms after an
average follow-up of nine years.
The subjects were asked at follow-up interviews how often they used 15 types
of cleaning products.
The use of cleaning sprays at least once a week was associated with a
roughly 50% increase in asthma symptoms or use of asthma medication and a
roughly 40% increase in wheezing.
Use of spray cleaners and air fresheners at least four days a week was
associated with a doubling of the risk of physician-diagnosed asthma.
The use of non-aerosolized cleaning products and air fresheners was not
linked to a rise in asthma risk.
The study is published in the October issue of the American Journal of
Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
No Proof of Cause and Effect
The findings come as no surprise to environmental and occupational medicine
specialist Kenneth D. Rosenman, MD, who wrote an editorial accompanying the
He points out that at least six previous population-based studies, as well
as numerous case reports, have found an increase in asthma and respiratory
illness among cleaning professionals.
"The unique thing about this study is that it expands the population at
risk for asthma from exposure to these products," he tells WebMD. "We
have known that workplace exposure can cause asthma. Now we know that anyone
who uses these products may be at risk."