Spray Cleaners May Up Asthma Risk
Study Sees Asthma Link for Home Users of Chemical Cleaning Sprays
WebMD News Archive
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."
But a spokesman for a trade group representing manufacturers of commercial
cleaning products says population studies like that of Zock and colleagues
often suggest cause and effect relationships that don't exist.
"By its very nature, the cleaning process brings people into contact
with known asthma causes and triggers, i.e. the biological contaminants (mold,
insect parts and excrement, animal dander, etc.)," Bill Lafield of the
Consumer Specialty Products Association tells WebMD. "Higher exposure to
these contaminants could result in higher than normal occurrences of
Zock says people can minimize potential risks by using non-aerosolized
cleaning products, by limiting their use of products containing bleach and
ammonia, and by never mixing cleaners that contain the two chemicals.
In his editorial, Rosenman called on federal regulators to test the
chemicals used in cleaning products for their potential to cause asthma.
The lack of such oversight has led to at least one recall of a carpet powder
and spray specifically marketed to people with asthma, according to
"It turned out that this product caused asthma," he says.