Household Cleaning Bad for Asthma?
Study: Household Cleaning Aggravates Respiratory Symptoms in Women With Asthma
Jan. 23, 2009 -- Ladies, if you have asthma and you've been trying to
get your husbands to help with the cleaning, you may have a legitimate health
reason for cutting back on household scrubbing.
A new study, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and
Immunology, shows that household cleaning increases respiratory symptoms in
women with asthma. The 12-week study followed 25 women with asthma and 19
without asthma. All were the primary cleaners in their households.
The women ranged in age from 18 to 65. The non-asthmatic participants
averaged 1.8 hours of cleaning per day and the asthmatic participants averaged
Jonathan Bernstein, MD and colleagues from the University of Cincinnati
College of Medicine assessed the impact of cleaning in three ways: upper
respiratory tract symptoms (sneezing and runny, stuffy, or itchy nose), lower
respiratory tract symptoms (coughing, wheezing, breathing difficulty, and chest
tightness), and peak
flow rate, which measures how well the lungs can push out air.
Upper respiratory symptoms increased for both groups. Lower respiratory
symptoms increased for women with asthma but not for women without asthma. The
cleaning had no impact on peak flow rates for either group.
The researchers say that asthma patients should be routinely asked if they
clean their homes and should be warned about the potential effects of these
activities on their symptoms.
The researchers say the previous studies have demonstrated that professional
cleaners are among many working groups who are at high risk of occupational asthma. The authors conclude that
"longer, prospective studies of nonprofessional household cleaners are
needed to determine whether there is an association between household cleaning
agent exposure and the development of asthma."