USING household cleaning products can double the risk of childhood rhinitis, a local study has found.
Rhinitis is the irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose caused by viruses, bacteria or allergens and affects half of all children, according to the study by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (香港中文大學). Symptoms include stuffy nose, runny nose and sneezing.
Health experts warn that the condition has a big impact on children’s academic performance and quality of life, even associating it with diseases including sleep apnea, middle ear infections and asthma.
The university’s school of public health and primary care (公共衞生及基層醫療學院) launched a three-year longitudinal study in 2012 to investigate health impacts of household cleaning products on the respiratory health of primary schoolchildren.
The team surveyed 2,299 primary school students to gauge their families’ cleaning practices, including the frequency and duration of their usage of chemical cleaning products. Researchers put the pupils into three groups based on the cumulative time of exposure to the products.
Compared with the group exposed to detergents for the least amount of time - 2.4 hours - pupils who were exposed to the chemicals for more than 3.2 hours per week were more prone to rhinitis.
The survey also found that using the cleaning products for another hour may increase the risk by 1.2 to 3.6 percent, while no associations with rhinitis were observed for households that clean with just water.
Kitchen cleaners, floor cleaners and bathroom cleaners were the most used types in the respondents’ households. Study leader Lao Xiangqian (勞向前) said childhood rhinitis is not caused by a single type of detergent but total exposure to all or several types of cleaning products.
(This article is published on Sing Tao Daily on 17 June 2016)
Indoor air quality