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Asthma risk from cleaning products
March 22, 2022
Article by Lotte Printz
ECJ’s Lotte Printz on a Norwegian study suggesting that children whose mothers work with cleaning products have a high risk of getting asthma.
The risk of children developing asthma or other respiratory problems such as wheezing increases by up to 71% if their mothers have been exposed to large amounts of cleaning products and disinfectants in the course of their work. . Even years before conception.
This is the grim conclusion of a study by Norwegian researchers Cecilie Svanes and Gro Tjalvin from the University of Bergen, published in the journal of allergy and clinical immunology at the end of last year.
This is the first human study to examine respiratory health effects in offspring resulting from maternal exposure to cleaning products and disinfectants before or around the time of conception or during pregnancy.
Based on two international studies, Respiratory Health in Northern Europe (RHINE) and Respiratory Health in Northern Europe, Spain and Australia (RHINESSA), the two Norwegian researchers looked at data from 3,318 adult participants of these and their mothers who had been exposed to indoor cleaning agents for six months or more. The mothers had all worked as cleaners, health workers, cooks, hairdressers, etc.
“It is well established that workers who are directly exposed to cleaning products and disinfectants are at risk for respiratory symptoms and asthma. Additionally, it has been suggested that exposures related to cleaning activities may pose a long-term respiratory health risk,” the document states.
But why these products affect respiratory health is not yet fully understood.
Rise in cases
Research that examines the respiratory health of offspring is also sparse. Despite the fact that cases of asthma in children have increased dramatically since the 1980s.
The reasons for this increase remain largely unknown, but with this study Cecilie Svanes and Gro Tjalvin suggest that it could be due to chemical exposures affecting the somatic and germ cells of expectant parents, thus impacting the health of children through the exposure of germ cells.
Although the results of the study are of course concerning, this research also indicates that there does not appear to be an increased risk of developing asthma, if the mother had started working in the said professions and had been exposed to these interior cleaning agents after the birth of the child.
Whatever the reasons and their findings, the two researchers stress that: “Given the potential implications for large numbers of women of childbearing age using cleaning agents, and their children, further research is imperative.”