According to a new study, passive exposure to bleach at home is linked to higher rates of childhood respiratory and other infections.
The study, which was published in the Occupational & Environmental Medicine journal, states that passive exposure to bleach in the home could increase the frequency of respiratory and other infections among school-age children.
For their study, the researchers analyzed the potential impact of exposure to bleach at home among more than 9000 children between the ages of 6 and 12 attending 19 schools in Utrecht in The Netherlands, 17 schools in Eastern and Central Finland and 18 schools in Barcelona in Spain.
The parents of participating children completed questionnaires detailing whether they used bleach to clean their homes once a week and the amount of times their children had developed infections like bronchitis, flu, tonsillitis, sinusitis and pneumonia. The parents of the children had the choice of reporting infection frequency as “never,” “once,” “twice” or “more than three times”.
The researchers also considered the use of bleach in different countries, which varied. 72% of respondents from Spain reported using bleach compared to 7% of those from Finland. Additionally, all of the Spanish schools involved with the study were cleaned with bleach whereas none of the Finnish schools were cleaned with bleach.
The researchers found that among children whose parents used bleach in the home, the risk of one episode of flu in the past 12 months was 20%. For recurrent tonsillitis, the risk was 35% higher, and for any infection it was 18% higher. The findings were the same in all three countries.
The researchers stated that even when they considered other factors like passive smoking, household mold and the use of bleach at schools the results remained same.
The researchers stated that the findings indicated that the number and frequency of infections were higher among children whose parents regularly used bleach to clean their home in all the three countries.