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Cleaning Products, Solvents May Cause Asthma -Study

August 26, 2004, Reuters News Service

LONDON (Reuters) - Exposure to fumes emitted by cleaning products in the home could cause asthma in children, a study published Thursday shows.

The study, in the British Medical Association's journal Thorax, found that children exposed to higher levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were four times more likely to suffer from asthma than children who were not.

VOCs are found in solvents, paints, floor adhesives, cleaning products, polishes, room fresheners and fitted carpets, the study said.

The authors, led by Krassi Rumchev of the School of Public Health at Curtin University of Technology in Australia, studied 88 children who were treated for asthma at the emergency department of the Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth.

"Our study supports the hypothesis that exposure to indoor pollutants might be important in the genesis of asthma," the authors wrote.

They found VOC concentrations were higher in homes where people smoked indoors, as well as homes that had been recently painted or had new carpets.

But they said they did not have enough data to conclude for certain whether use of household products such as cleaning products, paints and hobby supplies were to blame.

"Given that VOCs are carcinogenic (cancer causing) and some may be significantly related to asthma, it is important that an increased understanding of the factors that affect their indoor concentration is achieved," the study said.

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