An interesting new study, conducted by Occupational & Environmental Medicine, found that over-clean houses, especially those which use bleach, increase the risk of illness among children.
According to the study, bleach leaves children more susceptible to illnesses like flu, strep, and other infections. The researchers also found a direct link between the weekly use of bleach and the frequency of infections in kids.
The researchers focused on 9,000 schoolchildren between the ages of 6 and 12 in Holland, Finland, and Spain. Their parents were asked to complete a questionnaire on the number and frequency of flu, sinusitis, bronchitis, otitis (inflammation of the ear canal), and pneumonia infections their children had suffered.
The findings of the study clearly showed that the frequency of illness in homes where bleach was used was higher. One explanation is that the irritant properties of compounds generated during cleaning may damage the lining of lung cells.
The head of the study, Dr. Lidia Casas, from the Centre for Environment and Health in Belgium, said the study’s findings were worrying.
“The high frequency of use of disinfecting cleaning products, caused by the erroneous belief, reinforced by advertising, that our homes should be free of microbes, makes the modest effects reported in our study of public health concern. Passive exposure to cleaning bleach in the home may have adverse effects on school-age children’s health by increasing the risk of respiratory and other infections.”
The study makes the prospect of cleaning the house with bleach an issue for parents, especially those who are cleanliness freaks.
Dr. Casas warned, “The frequency of use of disinfecting irritant cleaning products may be of public health concern, also when exposure occurs during childhood. Our findings back other studies indicating a link between cleaning products and respiratory symptoms and inflammation. Bleach may also potentially suppress the immune system.”
[Image credit: extension.org]