New research from the CHILD Cohort Study shows that frequent exposure to common household cleaning products can increase a child’s risk of developing asthma.
The study was published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. It found that young infants (birth to three months) living in homes where household cleaning products were used frequently were more likely to develop childhood wheeze and asthma by three years of age.
“Infants typically spend up to 90% of their time indoors and are especially vulnerable to chemical exposures through the lungs and skin due to their higher respiration rates and regular contact with household surfaces,” said the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Tim Takaro, a professor and clinician-scientist in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU).
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The study used data from 2,022 children participating in the CHILD Cohort Study and examined their daily, weekly and monthly exposure to 26 types of household cleaners, including dishwashing and laundry detergents, cleaners, disinfectants, polishes, and air fresheners.
The children were assessed at age three to determine whether they had asthma, recurrent wheeze or atopy (allergic sensitization).
While there appeared to be an association between early exposure to cleaning products and risk of asthma and wheeze, there appeared to be no association with atopy alone, the authors noted.
“Therefore, a proposed mechanism underlying these findings is that chemicals in cleaning products damage the cells that line the respiratory tract through innate inflammatory pathways rather than acquired allergic pathways,” added Dr. Takaro.
“The risks of recurrent wheeze and asthma were notably higher in homes with frequent use of certain products, such as liquid or solid air fresheners, plug-in deodorizers, dusting sprays, antimicrobial hand sanitizers and oven cleaners,” commented lead author Jaclyn Parks, a graduate student in the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU.
“It may be important for people to consider removing scented spray cleaning products from their cleaning routine. We believe that the smell of a healthy home is no smell at all!”