Chemical Home

Fumes from cleaning products endanger your family

Chemical Home

Chemical Home

New studies are firm on the potentially dire consequences of using toxic cleaning products during pregnancy and infancy.

Using cleaning products during pregnancy endangers infants, says a study in the International Journal of Public Health. To evaluate the effects of household use of cleaning products during pregnancy on infant wheezing and lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) researchers looked at 4 our prospective Spanish birth cohorts of 2,292 pregnant women who reported their use of household cleaning products.

Toxic Gestation

When infants were 12-18 months old, current cleaning product use and infant’s wheezing and LRTI were reported. The prevalence of LRTI was higher when sprays or air fresheners were used during the mother’s pregnancy. The odds of wheezing increased with spray and solvent use. Solvents are found in all-purpose cleaners and particularly stronger ones in furniture p0lish. Air fresheners contain phthalates that cause reproductive effects and linger in the home environment.

Quit Now

The associations between spray and air freshener use during pregnancy and respiratory problems was apparent when these products were not used after pregnancy. So quitting use of toxic cleaners later might not undo damage.

Read: Behavioral Foods Impact Child's Mental State

Birth Defects

Nevertheless, the estimates were higher when postnatal exposure was included. So we definitely know use of cleaning sprays, air fresheners and solvents during pregnancy increases risk of wheezing and infections in the offspring and continuing their applications worsens respiratory health.

But if one works with these chemicals in the cleaning trades or even more intensively in the laboratory, hospital or other professions involving solvent exposure, even worse things happen: birth defects could ensue. Scientists in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health examined the association between the work mothers do and birth defects. “Overall, mothers working as maids, janitors, biologists, chemists… had increased risks of several malformations…” say the researchers with the Center for Environmental Health, New York State Department of Health.

Chemical Homes

As dismal as a child’s chemical life in an unsafe home has been up to this point, it gets even worse. Older kids with stuffy noses could be suffering from chemical homes filled with fumes from cleaning products, according to a study from the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. A total of 2299 children were recruited from 21 primary schools in Hong Kong. Total chemical burden score was used as the exposure indicator by calculating total time from 14 cleaning products. “Frequent use of chemical cleaning products at home is associated with an increase in the odds of rhinitis in Chinese primary school children.”

Parents' Lungs

But there is a happy lesson. Being good to your kids is also good for parents, say an article in the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine. The article shows that as the children’s respiratory health increases their parents' lungs benefit too.
Products the HealthyLiving Foundation has tested to be free from petrochemical markers such as 1,4-dioxane, and that should be considered among the safest ones available for the home, include Earth Friendly Products and Seventh Generation.

Casas L, Zock JP, Carsin AE, Fernandez-Somoano A, Esplugues A, Santa-Marina L, Tardón A, Ballester F, Basterrechea M, Sunyer J. The use of household cleaning products during pregnancy and lower respiratory tract infections and wheezing during early life. Int J Public Health. 2013 Oct;58(5):757-64. doi: 10.1007/s00038-012-0417-2. Epub 2012 Oct 11.
Lin S, Herdt-Losavio ML, Chapman BR, Munsie JP, Olshan AF, Druschel CM; National Birth Defects Prevention Study.Maternal occupation and the risk of major birth defects: a follow-up analysis from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2013 Jun;216(3):317-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2012.05.006. Epub 2012 Jun 12. Liu X, Lao XQ, Wong CC, Tan L, Zhang Z, Wong TW, Tse LA, Lau AP, Yu IT. Frequent use of household cleaning products is associated with rhinitis in Chinese children. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016 Sep;138(3):754-760.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2016.03.038. Epub 2016 May 6.
Zock JP, Plana E, Jarvis D, Antó JM, Kromhout H, Kennedy SM, Künzli N, Villani S, Olivieri M, Torén K, Radon K, Sunyer J, Dahlman-Hoglund A, Norbäck D, Kogevinas M. The use of household cleaning sprays and adult asthma: an international longitudinal study. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2007 Oct 15;176(8):735-41. Epub 2007 Jun 21.
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