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Monday, June 7th, 2010
Cleaning sprays, chlorine bleach and disinfectants may be contributing to the rise in asthma at home and work, according to Dr Jan-Paul Zock, an expert in occupational asthma. There is growing evidence that exposure to some cleaning products can provoke respiratory disorders and make existing asthma worse, but that it is preventable.
Associate Professor Zock from the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) in Barcelona, Spain presented the results from a range of studies into the emerging risks in occupational allergy. He found that professional cleaners employed in a variety of settings, and healthcare workers performing cleaning and disinfecting work, were more vulnerable to asthma. However, it is not clear what the underlying disease mechanisms are that cause these effects on the respiratory system. Dr Zock explained that new studies have now started to characterise cleaning-related asthma using clinical and functional tests and biological markers.
Dr Zock told delegates today at the congress of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, “The number of people at risk is very large. Not only those who have cleaning jobs or whose work involves cleaning are at risk, but we also need to consider the ubiquitous use of cleaning products at home.”
A series of studies has shown that there is an increased rate of asthma amongst janitors, cleaners, housekeepers and nurses. Many cleaning agents are respiratory irritants and some have sensitising properties. Inhalation exposure to bleach, ammonia, decalcifiers or other acids, solvents and stain removers more than once a week was linked to 20% rise in asthma or wheeze. Exposure is determined by frequency and duration of use, the concentration of the active ingredient and how well the room is ventilated.
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