Heart rate variability in association with frequent use of household sprays and scented products in SAPALDIA

Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Jul;120(7):958-64. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1104567. Epub 2012 Apr 22.


Background: Household cleaning products are associated with adverse respiratory health outcomes, but the cardiovascular health effects are largely unknown.

Objective: We determined if long-term use of household sprays and scented products at home was associated with reduced heart rate variability (HRV), a marker of autonomic cardiac dysfunction.

Methods: We recorded 24-hr electrocardiograms in a cross-sectional survey of 581 Swiss adults, ≥ 50 years of age, who answered a detailed questionnaire regarding their use of household cleaning products in their homes. The adjusted average percent changes in standard deviation of all normal-to-normal intervals in 24 hr (24-hr SDNN) and total power (TP) were estimated in multiple linear regression in association with frequency [< 1, 1-3, or 4-7 days/week, unexposed (reference)] of using cleaning sprays, air freshening sprays, and scented products.

Results: Decreases in 24-hr SDNN and TP were observed with frequent use of all product types, but the strongest reductions were associated with air freshening sprays. Compared with unexposed participants, we found that using air freshening sprays 4-7 days/week was associated with 11% [95% confidence interval (CI): -20%, -2%] and 29% (95% CI: -46%, -8%) decreases in 24-hr SDNN and TP, respectively. Inverse associations of 24-SDNN and TP with increased use of cleaning sprays, air freshening sprays, and scented products were observed mainly in participants with obstructive lung disease (p < 0.05 for interactions).

Conclusions: In predominantly older adult women, long-term frequent use of household spray and scented products was associated with reduced HRV, which suggests an increased risk of cardiovascular health hazards. People with preexisting pulmonary conditions may be more susceptible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects*
  • Household Products / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Air Pollutants