Use of Aerosol Spray Cleaners in the Home Ups Asthma Risks

The use of household aerosol spray cleaners could increase the risk that a person will develop asthma. The findings of a new study to be published in the October issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine indicate that these common products are not as harmless as some might think.

The study, conducted by the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology at the Municipal Institute of Medical Research in Barcelona, Spain, looked at a wide array of spray cleaners, including air fresheners, furniture cleaners and glass cleaners and found that the use of spray cleaners as little as once a week increased asthma risk by nearly 50-percent. What was not clear was whether the sprays actually caused asthma or if they triggered symptoms in people who already had the disease. But the researchers wrote that they suspected that the <"">toxic cleaners caused the asthma, because many of those in the study did not have asthma when it began.

The study drew on a 10-country database, called the European Community Respiratory Health Survey, and identified 3,500 people without a history of asthma who said they had primary responsibility for cleaning their homes. After following the subjects for nine years, the study subjects were interviewed about the types and frequency of the cleaning products they used. About 42 percent of those interviewed said they had used spray cleaners, with 22 percent reporting that they used the products an average of once a week. Of those who reported using the cleaners once a week, asthma rates were 45% higher in women and 76% percent higher in men. And for those who used spray cleaners more than four days a week, the risk for asthma more than doubled.

Other studies have found that people employed as professional cleaners have higher rates of asthma, and others have found an association between certain cleaners and respiratory problems. But this is the first to find a direct connection between normal exposure to household cleaners and the onset of asthma symptoms.

The authors of the Spanish study recommend that consumers use spray cleaners only when necessary. They also said that consumers should take precautions when they do use the sprays, including opening windows, and using masks or other protection. And they said it would be best if people who do have asthma avoid spray cleaners altogether.

This spray cleaner study is the second time in less than a week that research has pointed to dangers inherent in common household products. Last week, the Natural Resources Defense Council reported on a study that found that of National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which found that of 14 popular air fresheners, only two did not contain dangerous chemicals known as phthalates. Phthalates are known to disrupt hormones, are linked to birth defects and can be particularly dangerous for babies and young children.

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