Household cleaner use linked to asthma risk in children: study

Young children who grow up in households where their parents frequently use cleaning products are more likely to develop asthma by the age of three years old, a new study has found.

The study, which examined a group of 2,022 Canadian children aged between three and four months, found that the household products resulted in a higher risk of asthma and childhood wheeze by age three, though not atopy — a condition associated with heightened immune responses to certain allergens.

We’re conditioned to think that scents in the home are a sign of cleanliness, said lead study author Jaclyn Parks, a health sciences graduate student at Simon Fraser University.

“You go into someone’s home, you smell a nice cleaner smell, you’re like, ‘Oh wow, what a nice house.’ But really what you’re smelling is just pollutants in the air,” she said.

For the study, published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers gave parents a questionnaire asking them which kinds of products they used and how often.

Scented spray products, like air fresheners and other aerosols, seemed to be associated with more issues, the study found.

“The actual art of spraying a chemical into your air means that it’s easier to inhale, so you’re having more of that exposure to the lungs,” Parks said.

“It also means that it can settle on dust and other surfaces, so when you go to clean the next day or a week later, you stir up these things from a cleaning event that happened a week ago. And then you’re getting exposed again.”

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