Housecleaning Is a Risky Business

Published Online: Sunday, February 1, 2004

    Women who clean houses for a living may have to consider another line of work, the results of a Spanish study suggest. A survey of 4500 women in and around Barcelona (Spain) found a significantly higher prevalence of asthma among those who worked at housecleaning.

    The telephone survey asked women about their occupation and symptoms of asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory illnesses and whether they were being treated for a respiratory condition. The results of the study, published recently in Thorax, showed that >12% of women who had done or were still doing domestic cleaning reported symptoms of asthma and other respiratory symptoms, compared with 5% who had never worked as cleaners.

    Although it is not clear whether the findings apply to women who do their own housework, study author Jan-Paul Zock, PhD, said, ?We are currently studying in more detail the products these women are using. They use a wide variety of cleaning products that contain irritants, such as bleach and ammonia. These are in sprays that are agents for cleaning kitchens and products for cleaning bathrooms.?

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