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A new research led by Jonathan A. Bernstein, M.D., from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio, showed that women should not only avoid dusting around the house but also other cleaning activities that may worsen their condition.

Cleaning activities may be linked to increased lower respiratory tract symptoms caused by even those cleaning agents that were rated mild in toxicity.

The researchers advise that women with asthma are routinely interviewed to check they clean their homes and cautioned about the potential respiratory health effects of these activities.

In the 12-week parallel-group study, the researchers compared health effects of cleaning among asthmatic and non-asthmatic women who were the primary cleaners in their homes. The results showed a statistically significant change in the number of lower respiratory tract symptoms for asthmatic patients compared with non-asthmatic patients, although no effect was observed on peak expiratory flow rates after cleaning between the groups.

Women in both groups suffered from increased upper and lower respiratory tract symptoms after coming in contact to cleaning agents rated mild in toxicity. This occurrence suggests a subtle but potentially clinically relevant health effect of long-term low-level chemical exposures but longer studies of nonprofessional household cleaners are needed to determine whether there is an association between household cleaning agent exposure and the development of asthma.


Many household cleaning products are indeed toxic. Among the worst are those containing ammonia, alcohol and bleach. Dish-washing detergents would have been a safer alternative for those with respiratory sensitivity, and they work just as good as these toxic cleaning products. Wearing rubber gloves and a face mask specific for toxic mists while cleaning or dusting will add another layer of protection.