Two new studies link frequent exposures to chemicals with the onset or worsening of Asthma. The first, entitled "Evaluation of Cleaning Activities on Respiratory Symptoms in Asthmatic Female Homemakers" was published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati set out to study the affects of cleaning chemicals on women who clean their own homes. While there have been clear connections between the dangers of these substances on professional home cleaners, the impact on casual domestic use has not been previously measured.
Over 12 weeks both asthmatic and non-asthmatic women who were the primary user of cleaning products were observed and interviewed. The study found that women in both groups had increased toxicity symptoms in both their upper and lower respiratory tracks. However, it was also found that women who did have asthma had a higher increase in these symptoms in the lower respiratory than those who did not. Therefore the researchers concluded that women who have asthma should be routinely interviewed on whether or not they use cleaning products and informed of their risks.
The second study was entitled "Occupational Exposures and Asthma among Nursing Professionals" and was published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. A survey was distributed to registered nurses in Texas which asked about any development of asthma after entering the nursing profession. Nurses were asked about their exposure to certain chemicals contained in everyday activities such as wearing powdered latex gloves, using cleaning substances, administering aerosolized medicines and interacting with adhesives. When compared to other medical professions it was found that professions that were frequently exposed to cleaning products and disinfectants, such as nurses, were more likely to develop the disease.
Asthma is one of the most serious and widespread diseases that is at least partially caused by environmental factors facing the European Union. The incidence rate for asthma has been rising and much of this can be attributed to exposure to chemicals in homes and work environments. In 2004 the report from a longitudinal study of European’s repertory health was released. The European Community Respiratory Health Survey II made it clear that Asthma is a risk for all people, but especially for at risk populations like children. EU chemical registration legislation known as REACH has the power to limit the number of damaging chemicals that we are exposed to. Read more about how REACH will help protect our health here.
Written on 25 March 2009.