(HealthDay News) — Bleach exposure is associated with increased risk of respiratory and other infections in school-aged children, according to a study published online April 2 in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Lidia Casas, from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, and colleagues reported the effects of bleach use at home on the frequency of infections among school-aged children. A questionnaire was administered to parents of 9,102 pupils, aged 6–12 years, from schools in Spain, the Netherlands, and Finland. Questions included the frequency of infections (influenza, tonsillitis, sinusitis, otitis, bronchitis, and pneumonia) in the past 12 months.
The researchers found that use of bleach at home was common in Spain (72%) and rare in Finland (7%). Children of bleach users had higher prevalence of infections (recurrent or once). For influenza only once, recurrent tonsillitis, and any infection, there were significant combined associations (relative risk ratios, 1.20, 1.35, and 1.18, respectively).
“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 authors write. “The high frequency of use of disinfecting irritant cleaning products may be of public health concern, also when exposure occurs during childhood.”