Asthma and rhinitis in cleaning workers: a systematic review of epidemiological studies

J Asthma. 2014 Feb;51(1):18-28. doi: 10.3109/02770903.2013.833217. Epub 2013 Sep 18.


Objective: This article presents a systematic review of epidemiological studies linking cleaning work and risk of asthma and rhinitis.

Methods: Published reports were identified from PubMed covering the years from 1976 through June 30, 2012. In total, we identified 24 papers for inclusion in the review. The quality of studies was evaluated using the Strengthening of the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) statement checklist of 22 items for cross-sectional, cohort and case-control studies.

Results: Increased risk of asthma or rhinitis has been shown in 79% of included epidemiological studies. In four studies the increased risk of asthma in cleaning workers was confirmed by objective tests, such as bronchial hyper-reactivity or airflow obstruction. Level of exposure to cleaning products, cleaning sprays, bleach, ammonia, mixing products and specific job tasks has been identified as specific causes of asthma and rhinitis.

Conclusions: Possible preventive measures encompass the substitution of cleaning sprays, bleach and ammonia, avoidance of mixing products, the use of respiratory protective devices, worker education and medical surveillance.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Detergents / adverse effects*
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Rhinitis / epidemiology*
  • Rhinitis / etiology


  • Detergents