- Air fresheners, furniture polish and household cleaners
may increase the risk of asthma in young children, a study has found. Those
exposed to fumes from common domestic products were up to four times more
likely to develop asthma than those who were not.
- Outdoor pollution from vehicle exhausts is known to
asthma in susceptible individuals but it seems that staying inside offers
little respite. Evidence is growing that indoor pollution caused by
products and appliances may have similar effects.
- In the latest study, researchers studied the levels of
volatile organic compounds in the homes of 88 children with asthma and
104 without asthma who were treated in hospital at Perth, Western
- The compounds are found in paints, floor adhesives,
products, polishes, room fresheners, fitted carpets and cigarette smoke.
Levels can be five to 10 times higher indoors.
- The researchers took measurements twice within two weeks
of the child's visit to the accident and emergency department in the
and again during the summer.
- The findings showed levels of the compounds were
higher in the homes of children with asthma. The highest risks were for
benzene, a constituent of petrol, followed by ethylbenzene and
- The authors, from the school of public health at Curtin
University of Technology in Perth, say in the journal Thorax that asthma
is the most common chronic disease of childhood.
- Fitted carpets, soft furnishings, air conditioning and
central heating are blamed for causing or exacerbating the condition.
this context, the indoor environment could be of crucial importance since
infants spend 80 per cent of their time indoors at home," they
- Some of the compounds have cancer-causing effects, the
researchers say, and further study is urgently needed. But the task is
complicated by the wide range of compounds in use and the "continual
appearance of new products" that release different combinations of
compounds. A separate study showed infants exposed to fumes from gas
during their first year of life were 47 per cent more likely to develop
asthma or wheezing.
- Researchers from the University of Sydney, who examined
the effect of indoor heaters on 627 children aged eight to 11, found they
had no current effect on the development of respiratory conditions. But
those who had lived at home with a heater of this type from birth were
at increased risk. If their findings are confirmed, the researchers say
the range of heaters used in households should be reviewed.
- © 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd