“Over the last few decades, asthma and allergies have increased throughout from asthmatic symptoms. In Western Europe, the symptom rate is up to ten times that in Eastern countries. This suggests that a Western lifestyle is associated with allergic diseases in childhood”
World Health Org., World
Health Day 2003
There is no doubt that asthma has increased markedly over the last four decades of the twentieth century in western society. There have been several studies from the UK, USA, New Zealand and Australia that have documented these increases. One of the most frightening increases was found in Australia. A study of two towns in N.S.W. namely Belmont, (coastal and humid) and Wagga Wagga, (inland and dry) reported, “The increase in the rate of doctor diagnosed asthma was more than fourfold in Belmont and twofold in Wagga Wagga.” Further comments, “The prevalence of children who had four or more attacks of wheeze in the previous year increased by 13% in Belmont (6.3- fold) and by 9% in Wagga Wagga (2.8-fold).” (Peat et al “Changing prevalence of asthma in Australian children” BMJ 1994) These and similar findings have added urgency to the causal mechanisms of asthma.The fact that concentrations of dust mites are of similar or higher levels in third world countries, yet the levels of asthma have remained stable in the same time period is contraindicative to the belief that the dust mite and other allergens are the principal.
Cause of asthma.
Recent research has led scientists to conclude that while the presence of allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, cockroaches etc, are proven risk factors in the development of and the onset of attacks of asthma, environmental factors are also major contributors to the onset of asthma, especially in children. “The increase in airway abnormality in atopic* children occurred in the relatively short period of one decade, which suggests that a change in environment is either directly or indirectly responsible. The children studied in 1982 were born between 1970 and 1972, and the children studied in 1992 were born between 1980 and 1982. Because the prevalence of atopy was very similar in these cohorts it is unlikely that a change in the prevalence of genetic susceptibility had taken place, and it seems more likely that changes in environment or lifestyle were responsible for the changes in airway abnormality. Also, cigarette smoking by adults had decreased and outdoor air quality had tended to improve over this period, suggesting that these factors were probably not relevant.” (Peat et al “Changing prevalence of asthma in Australian children” BMJ 1994) *Atopic: a condition or disease associated to the presence of allergens, including allergic rhinitis (hay fever), atopic eczema (dermatitis) and asthma “Over the last few decades, asthma and allergies have increased throughout Europe. On average, 10% of children suffer from asthmatic symptoms. In Western Europe, the symptom rate is upto ten times that in Eastern countries.
” This suggests that a Western lifestyle is associated with allergic diseases in childhood. ”
World Health Org.,
World Health Day 2003
Today there are a number of studies that have proven beyond any doubt that the use of toxic chemicals in domestic cleaning increase dramatically the incidence of asthma. Whilst this is not to say this is the only cause of the condition, conclusive evidence of its impact has been documented in both adults, “Conclusions: Employment in domestic cleaning may induce or aggravate asthma. This study suggests that domestic cleaning work has an important public health impact, probably involving not only professional cleaners but also people undertaking cleaning tasks at home.” M Medina-Ramon et al, Asthma symptoms in women employed in domestic cleaning: a community based study, Thorax, 2003; 58:950-954, and children in a study of such great and immediate importance that I have reproduced its report in full Are household chemicals connected to the rise in asthma? 23/12/2004
Frequent use of household cleaning products and other chemicals in the home could be linked to cases of asthma among Britain’s children. A new study of respiratory health among young children has shown a clear connection between breathing problems and their mothers’ use of a range of common products such as bleach, paint stripper and carpet cleaners. In the 10 per cent of families who used the chemicals most frequently, the children were twice as likely to suffer wheezing problems as the families where they were used least.
The exact chemicals involved have not been identified, but the researchers say they have established a clear link between use of chemicals in the home and wheezing in young children â€“ which can go on to develop into asthma The findings, published today in the journal Thorax, are based on research involving 7,019 families from the Children of the 90s project at the University of Bristol. The report’s author Dr Andrea Sherriff says that other studies throughout Europe and the USA have demonstrated an increased risk of asthma in people working as cleaners.
“While research has concentrated on the working environment, there is virtually no data available on the effect of frequent use of chemical -based products in the home on the respiratory health of young children.
“It has been put forward that the indoor air environment may play an important role in the increasing asthma problem due to the fact that people, especially mothers with young children, spend so much of day indoors.”
During the study, pregnant women were asked to report how often they used a list of chemical-based products. common were disinfectant (used by 87.4%), bleach (84.8%), carpet cleaner (35.8%), window cleaner (60.5%), dry cleaning fluid (5.4%), aerosols (71.7%), turpentine/white spirit (22.6%), air fresheners – spray, stick or aerosol (68%), paint stripper (5.5%) , paint or varnish (32.9%) and pesticides/insecticides (21.2%).
For each family – researchers calculated the total chemical burden according to how frequently they used each product â€“ then they compared it with each mother’s report on whether her child had experienced wheezing with whistling on his or her chest to the age of 3 Â½ years, 71.2% children never wheezed, 19.1% appeared to wheeze cent developed wheezing problems after the age of 2 Â½ and 6.2 per cent (432 children) had persistent wheeze throughout. After taking into account a range of other factors â€“ including whether the parents smoked, damp housing, and family history of asthma â€“ the study found a significant association between the children who suffered persistent wheezing and the mother’s use of these chemicals. The more frequently the chemicals were used – the higher the risk that the young child would have persistent wheezing.
Dr Sherriff said: “These findings suggest that children whose mothers made frequent use of chemical-based domestic products during pregnancy were more likely to wheeze persistently throughout early childhood, independent of many other factors.
“Further research will identify whether this effect persists into later childhood and will attempt to identify the specific components responsible.” Sherriff A, Farrow A, Golding J, ALSPAC Study Team, Henderson AJ. Frequent use of chemical household products is associated with persistent wheezing in preschool-age children. Thorax 2005; 60: 45-9.
Further research needs to be completed to get a more definite picture of the various causal mechanisms of asthma however, it is abundantly apparent that both allergens and some chemicals are primary features of airway hyper-responsiveness and asthma in both the onset and aggravation of this major medical problem.
Given the current level of understanding of asthma we are now faced with the dilemma of hygiene versus health even though this seems a contradiction of terms. This dilemma has been recognised by the research community. “In the past 25 years, the prevalence of asthma has increased worldwide. The reasons for this increase have not been established. However, it is also recognized that asthma is a disease of individual members of the community, but increase the chance for disease processes such as asthma to flourish?
This area of research will be important and possibly may hold clues to the pathogenesis of asthma”.
(ASTHMA Jay A Nadel & William W Busse; American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine)
Perhaps further confirmation of the affects of the toxicity of household cleaning chemicals is the suggestion from recent research that there has been an indication of a levelling out of the furious increases in asthma of the last several decades. Although few researches have acknowledged the apparent link it is interesting to take a chronological overview of the cleaning habits of western society and the alarming levels of asthma in our community.
It was after the end of the world wars that western society began its love affair with chemical cleaning aids. By the fifties and sixties in America and Europe and perhaps the sixties on in Australia and New Zealand, households began to be convinced by mass media of the many advantages of chemical cleaners. Initially in small amounts, the use and variety of domestic cleaning products grew to a peak around the beginning of the nineties. At the beginning of the nineties non chemical cleaners were introduced to the market and by the turn of the century, these alternatives had achieved a remarkable popularity which is still growing today. It seems more than coincidental that the growth of asthma in western society seems to have begun by the end of the fifties, peaked in the mid nineties and now is giving an indication of slowing.
Research may not have as yet confirmed the many causal mechanisms behind asthma, but there is enough evidence to assist the general population in ways to both control further growth of the condition and to improve dramatically the quality of life of sufferers.
Given the current level of understanding of asthma, sufferers and those concerned for the welfare of their future generations have some clear guidelines with which to control their environment, by this I mean primarily their household and work environment. This area is especially important for our young as highlighted by the World Health Organisation, 2005 “Increasing hazards where children live are raising concern about the effects of the deterioration of the environment on their health.Children have a special vulnerability to environmental pollution, and their specific exposure patterns make them subject to higher exposures.” People have to not only control dust mite and other allergens but need to be very selective in the manner in
which they do this.
Steam (vapour) cleaners have continued their remarkable growth due to the efficiency with which they are able to achieve high levels of hygiene in a quick and simple application. The ability of this style of cleaning to lift dirt, kill dust mites and pests and sanitise the surface in one application make this form of cleaning the obvious choice for all society and in particular those concerned with asthma. Medical research has tested the ability of this form of cleaning in regards to dust mite control and in a study titled
“The use of domestic steam cleaning for the control of house dust mites.”
By M.J. Collof, C Taylor, and T.G. Merrett, Dept. of Immunology,
University of Glasgow, 1995, found “RESULTS: No live mites were found at any time in the treated carpet squares, whereas in the control squares geometric mean mite population density rose from 11 after three days to 39 after one month, 66 after two, 122 after three and 185 after four months. There was a mean reduction of 86.7% in Der p l concentration (3.3-0.44 micrograms/gram) compared with a reduction of 4.7% (2.22-2.116 micrograms/g) in control areas, a difference that was statistically significant at the 5% level. CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that steam cleaning has considerable potential as mites and reducing concentrations of Der p l in domestic premises.”
Greater efficacy can be achieved with the combination of steam and vacuum, giving the user the ability to not only kill the dust mites and their eggs, but to also remove the faeces and waste of these pests, which are the major triggers of allergic and asthmatic attacks. The ability of this form cleaning to achieve such a high level of hygiene without the assistance of chemical cleaning aids, seems to answer the major problems of modern household cleaning.
For any further information or copies of study results, please contact your Australian and New Zealand supplier of the worlds best Steam and steam with vacuum appliances, EUROGEM. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (08) 9388 1560″Over the last few decades, asthma and allergies have increased throughout from asthmatic symptoms. In Western Europe, the symptom rate is up to ten times that in Eastern countries. This suggests that a Western lifestyle is associated with allergic diseases in childhood”
World Health Org., World
Health Day 2003
There is no doubt that asthma has increased markedly over the last four decades of the twentieth century in western society. There have been several studies from the UK, USA, New Zealand and Australia that have documented these increases. One of the most frightening increases was found in Australia. A study of two towns in N.S.W. namely Belmont, (coastal and humid) and Wagga Wagga, (inland and dry) reported, “The increase in the rate of doctor diagnosed asthma was more than fourfold in Belmont and twofold in Wagga Wagga.” Further comments, “The prevalence of children who had four or more attacks of wheeze in the previous year increased by 13% in Belmont (6.3- fold) and by 9% in Wagga Wagga (2.8-fold).” (Peat et al “Changing prevalence of asthma in Australian children” BMJ 1994) These and similar findings have added urgency to the causal mechanisms of asthma.The fact that concentrations of dust mites are of similar or higher levels in third world countries, yet the levels of asthma have remained stable in the same time period is contraindicative to the belief that the dust mite and other allergens are the principal