Cleaning sprays, household help and asthma among elderly women

Respir Med. 2014 Jan;108(1):171-80. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2013.10.018. Epub 2013 Oct 31.


Objective: There is increasing evidence on the deleterious role in asthma of the use of household cleaning products in spray forms in adults. Household help might induce misclassification errors. The aim of the present analysis was to study associations between household exposure to cleaning sprays and current asthma in elderly women, taking into account household help.

Methods: A nested case-control survey on respiratory health was undertaken among a random sample of French women from the E3N study. Data were available for 570 women (235 with current asthma and 335 without asthma history; 68 years old on average, 59% never smokers). Three estimates of domestic exposure were used: 1) self-reported, 2) using principal component analysis, 3) a composite score for sprays. Associations between domestic exposures and asthma were assessed by logistic regression, adjusted for age, educational level, BMI and smoking status. Analyses were further stratified on household help in order to evaluate a potential misclassification bias.

Results: Among women without household help (n = 325), a significant association was observed between weekly use of at least one spray and current asthma (OR [95% CI]: 1.86[1.04-3.33]). No association was observed among women with household help.

Conclusions: Weekly household use of cleaning sprays may have a deleterious effect on asthma. It is important to take into account household help to limit misclassification bias.

Keywords: Asthma; Domestic cleaning sprays; asthma treatment; household help.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asthma / chemically induced*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Detergents / adverse effects*
  • Disinfectants / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Household Work*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies


  • Detergents
  • Disinfectants