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Cleaning products 'linked to adult asthma'

image captionA good excuse not to do cleaning?

People who work with cleaning products risk developing asthma, believe UK experts who have explored the link.

Their study of more than 7,000 people suggests exposure to bleach and other chemicals is a factor in one in six cases of adult-onset asthma among British people in their mid-50s .

The study, in Thorax, identified 18 high-risk jobs - four of which involved cleaning.

Top of the list were farmers, followed by aircraft mechanics and typesetters.

General cleaners, office cleaners, domestic helpers and care workers all featured on the list.

So too did hairdressers and laundry workers.

Experts say a person's working environment is to blame rather than their occupation per se.

Inhaled particles

Hundreds of occupational agents have been linked to asthma. This includes flour and grain as well as detergents.

Fine particles can be inhaled into the airways and cause irritation.

Lead researcher Dr Rebecca Ghosh said cleaning products were starting to be recognised as a potential cause of asthma.

She said there were specific Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) guidelines relating to cleaning products.

Employers are expected to control exposures to hazardous substances and report any cases of occupational asthma.

"Occupational asthma is widely under-recognised by employers, employees and healthcare professionals. Raising awareness that this is an almost entirely preventable disease would be a major step in reducing its incidence," Dr Ghosh said.

Malayka Rahman, of Asthma UK, said: "We advise anyone who works in the industries highlighted in this study and who have experienced breathing problems to discuss this with their GP, and we urge healthcare professionals to make sure they consider possible occupational causes in adult-onset asthma and tailor their advice to people with asthma accordingly."

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