Research Group Calls For More Asthma Warnings on Household Products

A new study indicates that many common household products increase the risk of developing asthma, especially when more than one product is being used in a home, leading researchers to call for more asthma warning labels for consumers.

In a report published by Smartline for the European Regional Development Fund on August 23, researchers warn that products containing volatile organic compounds (VCOs) can increase the risk of asthma due to particulate matter.

The researchers created the report to help raise awareness about the side effects of household products containing VCOs, and the goal is to create a new label system to mark products with VCOs as asthma risks to help reduce future diagnoses.

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Products like paints, varnishes and wax, many cleaning products, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products may all contain ingredients that emit VOCs. Combining them with the use of other household products can further increase the risk of asthma, according to the report.

One example is a chemical called Limonene which is a naturally occurring compound found in shampoos, detergents, and air fresheners. Paints for wood and kitchens also increase the risk of asthma.

The particles and compounds in the VCO’s can also be affected by factors such as leaks in a building, fabric, heating and ventilation systems, dampness, smoking, cleaning products, and aerosols.

The research also shows that exposure to VCOs also causes wheezing and shortness of breath for people without respiratory illness.

Asthma is a complex medical issue with symptoms being mild to extreme depending on the person. Asthma can cause difficulty breathing, chest pain, cough, and wheezing, but it can also cause a life-threatening attack where one cannot breathe.

Other than medications like inhalers, asthma can require oral steroids to prevent the closing of the airway in extreme cases. Asthma affects approximately 25 million Americans and asthma is more common in adults than children.

The report highlights the risks of indoor pollutants and their effect on respiratory health, especially to those who are already vulnerable. With people spending more time inside due to the pandemic, the researchers suggest policymakers and manufacturers make it explicit that VCOs are potential health risks.

The messaging for those using and managing VCOs needs to be clearer to raise awareness of the health risks present from the compounds, the researchers warned.


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