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Cleaning House May Be Risky for Women With Asthma

Chemicals in products need more study for potential respiratory effects, study says

SATURDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Housecleaning products may pose a threat to women with asthma, U.S. researchers say.

During a 12-week study, they compared cleaning-related health effects in women who did and did not have asthma and found a higher number of lower respiratory tract symptoms among the asthmatic women.

Dr. Jonathon A. Bernstein, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and colleagues found that "women in both groups exhibited increased upper and lower respiratory tract symptoms in response to cleaning agents rated mild in toxicity, suggesting a subtle but potentially clinically relevant health effect of long-term, low-level chemical exposures."

The researchers recommended "that women with asthma should be routinely interviewed as to whether they clean their home and cautioned about the potential respiratory health effects of these activities."

The study was published in the January issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Asthma affects about 20 million people in the United States. Death rates from the disease are higher among women than men. In many homes, women are the primary cleaners.

Authors of the study concluded that "longer, prospective studies of nonprofessional household cleaners are needed to determine whether there is an association between household cleaning agent exposure and the development of asthma."

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about asthma.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, news release, Jan. 22, 2009

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