Cleaning Jobs Linked to Asthma Risk

Asthma and professional cleaning link

In this study, 18 occupations were clearly linked with asthma risk, four of which were cleaning jobs and a further three of which were likely to involve exposure to cleaning products.

Bloomington, IN – March 4, 2013 – Researchers at the Imperial College London have tracked the occurrence of asthma in a group of nearly 9,500 people born in Britain in 1958.

Not including those that had asthma as children, 9 percent developed asthma by the age of 42. While one in nine of these cases were attributed to smoking, an even higher number of cases—one in six—were workplace related.

According to the researchers, there are many occupations that are thought to cause asthma.

In this study, 18 occupations were clearly linked with asthma risk, four of which were cleaning jobs and a further three of which were likely to involve exposure to cleaning products.

Farmers, hairdressers, and printing workers also had an increased risk of developing asthma. And, in addition to cleaning/disinfecting products, adult-onset asthma was associated with exposure to flour, enzymes, metals, and textiles.

The study was published earlier this year in the journal Thorax, considered one of the world’s leading medical journals that focuses on respiratory health.

“Occupational asthma is widely under-recognized by employers, employees, and healthcare professionals,” says Dr. Rebecca Ghosh of the MRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health at Imperial College London and the study’s lead author. “Raising awareness that this is an almost entirely preventable disease would be a major step in reducing its incidence.”

Professional CleaningCommenting on the report, Stephen Ashkin, President of The Ashkin Group and long considered the father of Green Cleaning, says the report is not really news to the professional cleaning industry.

“While the study did not note whether [the cleaning workers in the study] were using Green or traditional cleaning products, we have known for more than two decades that exposure to cleaning chemicals on a regular basis can be a health hazard. This study now confirms this.”

The study concluded that healthcare professionals treating adults with asthma and similar respiratory problems consider the patients’ occupations and tailor their recommendations and treatments with this information in mind.

*Ghosh RECullinan P, Fishwick D, et al. Asthma and occupation in the 1958 birth cohort. Thorax. Published Online First: 21January 2013. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2012-202151