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Health Hazards in Household Cleaners Exposed
Date:7/25/2008

known as 1,4 DCB is the chemical that gives mothballs their distinctive odor. It's also found in room deodorizers, insecticides and in urinal blocks.

While it's known that perfumes and chemical products can trigger asthma, researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reviewed data from nearly 1,000 adults who provided information on VOC exposure for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

They found an average decrease in lung function of 4 percent was associated with exposure to 1,4 DCB.

The second study was conducted in Europe and included 3,500 people from 10 countries. The study, published recently in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found that regular use of cleaning sprays -- such as air fresheners, furniture cleaners and glass cleaners -- was linked to a 30 percent to 50 percent increased risk of asthma.

"Everybody knows that cigarette smoke and car emissions are the kinds of chemicals that can trigger asthma, but maybe we better look at things that are in our everyday life, like air fresheners," said Appleyard. She also pointed out that, ironically, a chemical marketed to reduce allergens if you sprinkle it on your carpets is a significant irritant to people with asthma.

For both people with asthma and even those without, Appleyard said it's a good idea to avoid harsh chemicals. "Try to go green with your cleaning products. Always reach for unscented laundry detergents and cleaning products," she advised.

If you're using chemicals to clean, she recommended always doing so with proper ventilation. She also recommended keeping the windows open and wearing a mask while cleaning.

Rosenstreich echoed Appleyard's sentiments. "I assume people with asthma and nasal symptoms are probably already avoiding these products, but even for people without these conditions, it would be wise to avoid them. You can't contro
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