Purpose of review: The purpose of this review is to summarize the recent evidence on the effect of cleaning jobs on asthma, based on case reports and series of occupational asthma among cleaners, and epidemiological studies on the relationship between different characteristics of cleaning and asthma risk, as well as to elaborate the evidence on potential occupational exposures responsible for the increased asthma risk observed in cleaners.
Recent findings: Six recent epidemiologic studies strengthen the evidence that domestic and industrial cleaners are at higher risk of asthma compared with professional employees in Europe and the United States. These studies take into account individual confounders, such as age and cigarette smoking. This finding is supported by case reports and registry-based studies of occupational asthma. The studies and reports have identified some chemicals, such as bleach, as specific causes of asthma. Increased risk of asthma has also been related to some specific job tasks, such as cleaning windows and washing dishes.
Summary: Recent studies strengthen the evidence of an increased asthma risk among cleaners or individuals in other jobs in which they are involved in cleaning. Further research should be directed to elaborate how much of asthma is related to specific sensitization to certain chemicals and how much to airway inflammation induced by exposure to a mixture of irritants.