Could cleaning products and materials be a major trigger for adult/occupational asthma?

Photo by Jude Doyland via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

Photo by Jude Doyland via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

Recent research carried out by Imperial College London’s National Heart and Lung Institute and funded by Asthma UK and The Colt Foundation has found strong evidence of a link between cleaning jobs and the risk of developing asthma.

Researchers at Imperial College London tracked the occurrence of asthma in a group of 9,488 people born in Britain in 1958. Results showed that 9% had developed asthma by age 42 (not including those who had developed asthma in childhood). According to the research, risks in the workplace were found to be responsible for one in six cases of adult onset asthma, even more than the one in nine cases attributed to smoking.

Eighteen job types were found to have a link with the risk of developing asthma, four of which were cleaning jobs and three of which involved exposure to cleaning products and materials. Other materials that were identified in the study as having a link to asthma include flour, enzymes, metals, and textiles.

According to Dr Rebecca Ghosh from the National Heart and Lung Institute:

“Occupational asthma is widely under-recognised by employers, employees and healthcare professionals. Raising awareness that this is an almost entirely preventable disease would be a major step in reducing its incidence.”

Certain substances (known as respiratory sensitisers), which are prevalent in certain working environments, can cause allergic reactions such as asthma when they are inhaled into the lungs. For more information see our guide on respiratory sensitisers or our blog on occupational asthma on the Health for Work Adviceline website. Or for more guidance on employee health issues, speak to one of our professional occupational health advisers for free on 0800 0 77 88 44.

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One Response to Could cleaning products and materials be a major trigger for adult/occupational asthma?

  1. Emma Karagkevrekis says:

    I was wondering if research extended to use of chemicals at home? For example, housekeepers or cleaners. These people may well be using bleach based products, almost certainly with hot water and a well known oven cleaner again in hot water, with poor ventilation and no PPE whatsoever. One lady I saw was going through two bottles of bleach every week and one can of spray oven cleaner every week. A lot of people working in these types of roles have predispositions that would almost certainly point to a very clean home…
    Thanks