Asthma link to cleaning agents puts many at risk

A HEALTH expert has issued a new warning over the link between cleaning sprays and asthma.

Jan-Paul Zock pointed to growing evidence that cleaning products can spark asthma and worsen existing symptoms.

Chlorine, bleach, disinfectants and other cleaning agents are fuelling a rise in asthma at home and work, he said.

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Professional cleaners and health workers who use products in hospitals are particularly vulnerable, he added.

Addressing a European allergy conference in London, Dr Zock said studies had already found higher rates of asthma among caretakers, cleaners, housekeepers and nurses.

Inhaling bleach, ammonia, decalcifiers, acids, solvents and stain removers more than once a week was linked to a 20 per cent rise in asthma or wheezing, Dr Zock said.

People who frequently use cleaning products are most at risk, as are those who use them for long periods. The strength of a product, in addition to room ventilation, also affect the risk.

Dr Zock said more studies were needed on people's exposure at home, which can be difficult to track.

However, he said, many people at home could be at risk. "The number of people at risk is very large," said Dr Zock, from the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona.

"We need to consider the ubiquitous use of cleaning products at home," Dr Zock added.