06 March 2009

Housework bad for asthma

Scrubbing the kitchen floor or doing other cleaning chores around the home may trigger a spike in breathing problems in women with asthma, researchers report.

Scrubbing the kitchen floor or doing other cleaning chores around the home may trigger a spike in breathing problems in women with asthma, Ohio-based doctors warn in a report published this month.

"We certainly know that cleaning as an occupation and cleaning agent exposures are major risks for asthma and asthma exacerbations," Dr. Jonathan A. Bernstein, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, told Reuters Health. "So we wanted to see what was going on in the general population (because) obviously people clean their homes."

How the study was done
In a 12-week study, Bernstein and colleagues compared the health effects of household cleaning among 25 asthmatic and 19 non-asthmatic women who reported that they are the primary cleaners in their homes.

After cleaning, the researchers observed a statistically significant increase in the number of respiratory symptoms in asthmatic women compared with non-asthmatic women, "which indicates that these cleaning activities were aggravating their symptoms," Bernstein said. "It was a pretty significant finding," he added.

Chemicals cause respiratory symptoms
In fact, according to the researchers, all of the women in the study - both asthmatic and non-asthmatic women - exhibited respiratory symptoms in response to exposure to cleaning agents rated as mild in toxicity.

This finding, they say, points to a subtle but potentially important adverse health effect of long-term low-level exposure to these chemicals.

Bernstein and colleagues think doctors should caution women with asthma about the potential respiratory health effects of cleaning activities and exposure to cleaning agents.

"Whether or not these cleaning activities will put women at risk for subsequently developing asthma that is something that has certainly been talked about but needs to be looked at in larger studies prospectively," Bernstein told Reuters Health. - (Reuters Health)

SOURCE: Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, January 2009.

Read more:
Mouldy homes trigger asthma
Fast food, asthma linked


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Asthma Expert

Professor Keertan Dheda has received of several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others.Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules