Using household cleaning sprays and air fresheners as little as once a week can raise the risk of developing asthma in adults, according to the October 15 issue of American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The researchers, led by Jan-Paul Zock, PhD, of the Municipal Institute of Medical Research, Barcelona, Spain, studied 3,500 subjects, assessing them for various symptoms in addition to the number of times per week they used cleaning products.
The risk of developing asthma increased with frequency of cleaning and number of different sprays used, but on average was about 30% to 50% higher in people regularly exposed to cleaning sprays than in others. In particular, 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 Zock hypothesized that asthma is partially irritant-induced, that sprays contain sensitizers that are asthma-specific, and/or that an inflammatory response is involved in asthma development.

The research may have significant implications for public health. “The relative risk rates of developing adult asthma in relation to exposure to cleaning products could account for as much as 15%, or one in seven of adult asthma cases,” wrote Zock.

To read the abstract, click here.