Picture: A finger on an aerosol can 
The use of air fresheners
might result in asthma

Such products have been associated with increased asthma rates in cleaning professionals, but a similar effect in nonprofessional users has not been shown before. “Frequent use of household cleaning sprays may be an important risk factor for adult asthma,” wrote lead author of the study Jan-Paul Zock, Ph.D., of the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology at the Municipal Institute of Medical Research in Barcelona, Spain.

The investigators used baseline data from the first phase of the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS I). Altogether, the study included more than 3,500 subjects across 22 centres in ten European countries. Subjects were assessed for current asthma, current wheeze, physician-diagnosed asthma and allergy at follow-up, which took place an average of nine years after their first assessment. They were also asked to report the number of times per week they used cleaning products.

Two-thirds of the study population who reported doing the bulk of cleaning were women, about six percent of whom had asthma at the time of follow-up. Fewer than ten percent of them were full-time homemakers. The risk of developing asthma increased with frequency of cleaning and number of different sprays used, but on average was about 30 to 35 percent higher in people regularly exposed to cleaning sprays than in others. The researchers found that cleaning sprays, especially air fresheners, furniture cleaners and glass-cleaners, had a particularly strong effect.

The design of the study was not intended to determine the biological mechanism behind the increase in asthma with exposure to cleaning sprays, but the researchers propose a number of hypotheses, including the possibility that asthma is partially irritant-induced, that sprays contain sensitizers that are specific to asthma, and/or that an inflammatory response is involved in asthma development.

MEDICA.de; Source: American Thoracic Society