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Do Home Cleaning Chemicals Cause Asthma?


Updated October 14, 2009

Question: Do Home Cleaning Chemicals Cause Asthma?
Answer: We’ve all done it: We’re cleaning the bathroom with a household cleaner, such as those that contain bleach, thinking that we’re doing a good thing. Suddenly, you take a deep breath and accidentally inhale some of the aerosol, and can’t stop coughing. Could this actually lead to asthma?

Quite possibly so. A study published in 2007 looked at the association between the use of household cleaners and the development of asthma. This study, which was performed in Europe, included over 3,500 people who frequently used various household cleaners in their homes. None of the people had asthma at the beginning of the study.

For those people who used household cleaners at least once a week, asthma symptoms occurred 50% more often than was expected for people without exposure to these chemicals. When household cleaners were used 4 or more days per week, asthma symptoms were more than twice as likely to develop.

Surprisingly, atopic people were not more likely than non-atopic people to develop asthma just because they were exposed to household chemicals.

The household cleaners most likely to result in asthma symptoms were glass cleaners, furniture polish and air fresheners. Only the spray forms of the cleaners caused the problems.

Learn more about asthma symptoms and triggers.


Zock JP, Plana E, Jarvis D, et al. The Use of Household Cleaning Sprays and Adult Asthma: An International Longitudinal Study. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2007; 176:735-41.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your physician for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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