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Frequent use of cleaning products associated with poor asthma control

Published online: June 1, 2021

Concerns regarding the respiratory health effects of chemical exposures from consumer products used in everyday life such as disinfectants and cleaning products have been growing in the last decade. Use of disinfectants and cleaning products at home, in particular cleaning sprays and irritant products, has been associated with asthma development or asthma symptoms. There is currently no cure for asthma and the primary goal of asthma management is to achieve and maintain the control of the disease, i.e. to limit symptoms and the disease impact in everyday life. Asthma control can be improved through optimal asthma treatment, but also through the control of the environment and avoidance of triggers. However, asthma control may be suboptimal in 40–50% of adults with asthma, with even higher rates among women.

In a study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Dumas et al. examined whether household use of disinfectant and cleaning products was associated with poor asthma control among women. In a population of 2,223 elderly women with asthma, they used questionnaires to assess household cleaning habits, including the frequency of cleaning task and use of products, as well as asthma control, evaluated by a standardized tool, the Asthma Control Test.

Asthma was optimally controlled in 29% of the participants, partly controlled in 46%, and poorly controlled in 25%. Weekly use of sprays or chemicals for home cleaning and frequent use of multiple disinfectants and cleaning products were associated with poor asthma control. Specifically, compared to women who did not use sprays or chemicals weekly, those who used at least 2 types of sprays had 65% increased risk of poor asthma control, and those who used at least 2 types of chemicals had 47% increased risk of poor asthma control. These findings strongly suggest that limiting the use of disinfectants and cleaning products at home may help improve asthma control in adult patients. Clinicians should be aware of this risk factor for poor asthma control and integrate it in asthma management strategies. Interestingly, performing general cleaning tasks frequently but with limited/infrequent use of chemicals was not associated with poor asthma control, and could be a practical advice for patients with asthma.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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