May 24, 2006
Cleaning Products May Take Your Breath Away
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