Cleaning with bleach increases risk of flu
When germs invade the house, it’s common to reach for bleach-based cleaning products to help eliminate them, but experts say those chemicals can put children at risk for respiratory problems.
European researchers found in a recent study that children who live in homes where bleach was used at least once a week had higher incidents of flu and respiratory infections. They also found that airborne components of bleach and similar products may irritate the lining of children’s lungs, triggering inflammation and making it easier for infections to take hold.
Dr. Sivakami Thayu, an internist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill., says it’s possible to create indoor air pollution. Exposure in the home to volatile organic compounds can greatly increase the likelihood of someone developing asthma or other allergic disorders like allergic rhinitis and eczema.
“Volatile organic compounds can be found in many common household cleaners that spray or leave residue in the air which can narrow the air passages making it difficult for a person to breathe,” Dr. Thayu says. “I recommend to my patients to use a more gentle method of cleaning that will be easier to tolerate.”
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends the following tips:
- Look for products with a “green” seal of approval that are easy on the environment as they come from plant or natural sources.
- Clean with ordinary household ingredients such as lemon, vinegar and baking soda.
- Spray straight vinegar on the walls. Don’t rinse, just air dry.
- Make your own cleaning solution: Mix two cups vinegar, two cups very hot water, 1/2 cup salt and two cups borax. Apply solution to area and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Apply the solution again, scrubbing with a soft bristled brush and rinse well with plain water.
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