Canadian researchers call for better information on packaging.
A Canadian study of more than 2000 babies suggests those brought up in households that used more cleaning products were at significantly greater risk of getting asthma by the age of three.
This has prompted the researchers to call for better regulation of cleaning supplies, including a requirement that manufacturers list chemical ingredients on packaging and that testing for adverse health effects is done before they are sold.
While the study shows a link, it can’t prove cleaning agents are responsible for asthma. But the authors say there is strong evidence from other studies that cleaning agents cause asthma in adolescents and adults.
They also think it’s plausible that long-term exposure to the products causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways. Many cleaning agents contain volatile organic compounds, chemicals the American Lung Association says are linked to respiratory problems and should be avoided.
In their study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the team used data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study, collected between 2008 and 2015, to score how often cleaning products were used in the home when a child was three to four months old.
Then they fast-forwarded to when the child was three to see how many had been diagnosed with asthma or had recurrent wheeze, a whistling sound during exhalation that’s a sign of narrowed airways.
They found children in homes with the most frequent use of cleaning products had 37% higher odds of an asthma diagnosis and 35% higher odds of reporting wheeze.
Products with the strongest link to asthma were scented, spray-on products that produce fine liquid droplets called aerosols.
Read the full story in Cosmos magazine here