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Cleaning products and short-term respiratory effects among female cleaners with asthma
  1. David Vizcaya1,2,3,4,
  2. Maria C Mirabelli1,
  3. David Gimeno5,6,
  4. Josep-Maria Antó1,2,4,7,
  5. George L Delclos2,6,7,8,
  6. Marcela Rivera4,
  7. Ramon Orriols9,10,
  8. Lourdes Arjona1,2,7,
  9. Felip Burgos9,11,
  10. Jan-Paul Zock1,2,4,12
  1. 1Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
  2. 2CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Madrid, Spain
  3. 3University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM), Montreal, Canada
  4. 4Departament de Ciències Experimental i de la Salut, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
  5. 5The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health, San Antonio Regional Campus, San Antonio, Texas, USA
  6. 6Center for Research in Occupational Health (CiSAL), University Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
  7. 7IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute), Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
  8. 8The University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, Texas, USA
  9. 9Centro de Investigación en Red de Enfermedades Respiratorias (CIBERES), Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII), Bunyola, Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
  10. 10Servei de Pneumologia, Hospitals de Girona i Salt. Institut d'Investigació Biomòdica de Girona (IDIBGI), Girona, Catalonia, Spain
  11. 11Servei de Pneumologia, Hospital Clínic, IDIBAPS, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
  12. 12Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL), Utrecht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to David Vizcaya, University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM), 850 Rue Saint-Denis, Bureau S02.446, Montreal, QC, Canada H2X 0A9; dvizcaya.epi{at}


Objective We evaluated the short-term effects of exposure to cleaning products on lung function and respiratory symptoms among professional cleaning women.

Methods Twenty-one women with current asthma and employed as professional cleaners participated in a 15-day panel study. During 312 person-days of data collection, participants self-reported their use of cleaning products and respiratory symptoms in daily diaries and recorded their forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and peak expiratory flow (PEF) three times per day using a handheld spirometer. We evaluated associations of cleaning product use with upper and lower respiratory tract symptoms using Poisson mixed regression models and with changes in FEV1 and PEF using linear mixed regression analyses.

Results Participants reported using an average of 2.4 cleaning products per day, with exposure to at least one strong irritant (eg, ammonia, bleach, hydrochloric acid) on 56% of person-days. Among participants without atopy, lower respiratory tract symptoms were associated with the use of hydrochloric acid and detergents. Measurements of FEV1 and PEF taken in the evening were 174 mL (95% CI 34 to 314) and 37 L/min (CI 4 to 70), respectively, lower on days when three or more sprays were used. Evening and next morning FEV1 were both lower following the use of hydrochloric acid (−616 and −526 mL, respectively) and solvents (−751 and −1059 mL, respectively). Diurnal variation in FEV1 and PEF increased on days when ammonia and lime-scale removers were used.

Conclusions The use of specific cleaning products at work, mainly irritants and sprays, may exacerbate asthma.

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