Friday, March 14, 2008

Asthma in Children and Spring Cleaning

A recent study published in the European Respiratory Journal reports a link between wheezing and asthma in young children, and their mothers' use of cleaning products such as bleach and air freshener during pregnancy.

The study looked at 14,541 pregnant women and a large variety of lifestyle habits, including the use of household cleaners. Mothers that used bleach, air fresheners and other products during pregnancy and just after birth increased the risk of their child developing persistent wheezing by the age of seven by up to 41%. Authors have taken into account some other factors that lead to asthma such as heredity, environmental factors, animal allergies, pollen, dust mites and acknowledge that this study is only preliminary and more research needs to be done.

A study in New Scientist in 1999 reported that 'in homes where aerosol sprays and air fresheners were used frequently, mothers experienced 25 percent more headaches and were 19 percent more likely to suffer from depression, and infants under six months of age had 30 percent more ear infections and 22 percent higher incidence of diarrhea'.

For for your spring cleaning this year, try these alternatives:
  • Baking Soda - cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours.
  • Soap - unscented soap in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything. Avoid using soaps which contain petroleum distillates and that are labeled "antibacterial"- soap by nature is antibacterial and doesn't needed anything added!
  • Lemon - one of the strongest food-acids, effective against most household bacteria.
  • Borax - (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors.
  • White Vinegar - cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up.
  • Kosher Salt and Water- If you need a tougher abrasive on sinks and cast iron pans, sprinkle on kosher salt, and scrub with a wet cloth or sponge.
Resources:, Consumers Reports' Eco-labels website,,'s DIY Toxin-Free Cleaning Guide

1 comment:

Joy said...

The great thing about using natural ingredients is that it's vastly less expensive too! We also blog about green living for less with a baby in tow at