A new study has found strong evidence for a link between cleaning jobs and risk of developing asthma.
Researchers at Imperial College London tracked the occurrence of asthma in a group of 9,488 people born in Britain in 1958. Not including those who had asthma as children, nine per cent developed asthma by age 42. Risks in the workplace were responsible for one in six cases of adult onset asthma - even more than the one in nine cases attributed to smoking, according to the analysis.
There are many occupations that are thought to cause asthma. In this study, 18 occupations were clearly linked with asthma risk, four of which were cleaning jobs and a further three of which were likely to involve exposure to cleaning products.
Farmers, hairdressers, and printing workers were also found to have increased risk, as previous studies have reported. Farmers were approximately four times more likely to develop asthma as an adult than office workers.
Besides cleaning products, flour, enzymes, metals, and textiles were among materials in the workplace identified in the study as being linked to asthma risk.
The study's lead author, Dr Rebecca Ghosh of the MRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health at Imperial College London, said: "This study identified 18 occupations that are clearly linked with asthma risk, but there are others that did not show up in our analysis, mainly because they are relatively uncommon. 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."
Source: Imperial College London