Drawing on a 10-country database, called the European Community Respiratory Health Survey, the researchers identified more than 3,500 people without any history of asthma or asthma symptoms. All reported being responsible for the cleaning of their homes.
After an average of close to nine years of follow-up, face-to-face interviews were conducted, and the study volunteers were asked about the types of cleaning products they used and how often they used them. They were also asked if they had been diagnosed by a physician as having asthma, or had been treated with asthma medications during the study period. The researchers also performed lung-function tests on the study volunteers.
Overall, 42 percent of the study volunteers reported using a spray cleaner at least once a week. Glass cleaning sprays were the most commonly used sprays, with about 22 percent reporting using them at least once a week.
Liquid multi-purpose cleaners were also frequently used -- just over 83 percent said they used such a product at least once a week. However, the researchers didn't find any association between asthma and properly used liquid cleaners.
Weekly use of a spray cleaner increased the risk of having current asthma by 45 percent in women and 76 percent in men. Among those who used the cleaning sprays at least four days a week, the risk of asthma was more than doubled.
Zock said it's too soon to tell people to swear off spray cleaners altogether, but added, "Nevertheless, from the perspective of precaution, we may recommend to use sprays only when really necessary. In most cases, it is possible to replace the spray by non-spray cleaning liquids and to do the cleaning properly. If [sprays are] used, people can protect themselves by opening windows, avoiding the application near the breathing zone, and by using masks
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