Bleach exposure may raise infection risk for kids
Exposure to bleach, a common antibacterial ingredient in many cleaning products, may increase a child’s risk of developing respiratory illnesses, such as tonsillitis or the flu, according to a European research team.
The researchers tested the effects of bleach in the homes of 9,102 children who attended one of 19 schools in Utrecht, Netherlands, 18 schools in Barcelona, Spain, or 17 schools in Eastern and Central Finland. Questionnaires were filled out by parents of the children, noting if they use bleach in the home once a week, as well as how many times their child developed certain respiratory infections during the previous year. Parents were asked to report “never,” “once,” “twice,” or “more than three times,” for the rate at which their children developed infections such as bronchitis, tonsillitis, sinusitis and the flu.
The results, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, showed that for homes cleaned with bleach, children had a 35 percent higher risk of developing tonsillitis, and a 20 percent higher risk of developing the flu. They also found that bleach increases the risk of a child developing any infection by 18 percent.The results were calculated after adjusting for other environmental factors, such as household mold, passive smoking and bleach use within schools. Researchers found that bleach use varied among the countries, with 72 percent of responders in Spain using bleach, and only 7 percent of those from Finland using bleach. Almost all schools in Spain used bleach to clean, whereas hardly any of the Finnish schools used the cleaning agent.
Researchers say that they cannot make any concrete conclusions based on this study alone, and more detailed studies are needed to determine if there’s a cause and effect link between bleach use and infection.