School-age children who live in a household where bleach is used frequently are at increased risk for recurrent bronchitis.
Bleach is commonly used in homes, schools, and public buildings as a cleaning product. Now a study, published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, shows that the passive exposure to chlorine from bleach could increase the frequency of respiratory infections between the school age children.
The effects of household chlorine exposure among children aged 6 to 12 years in Finland, Spain and the Netherlands were examined.
Between the different countries, important differences were found regarding the use of bleach, with 72% of the respondents from Spain using bleach while only 7% of the respondents from Finland used it. Furthermore, all the Spanish schools that participated in the study were cleaned with bleach, while none of the Finnish schools were cleaned with bleach.
It was found that the frequency of infections was higher among children whose parents regularly used bleach in their homes. Specifically, among children whose parents used bleach at home, the risk of having suffered a flu episode in the past 12 months was 20% higher, 35% higher for recurrent tonsillitis and 18% higher for any infection , compared to those children whose parents did not use bleach to clean their houses.
These results suggest that passive exposure to bleach used for household cleaning is associated with an increased frequency of respiratory infections in school-age children.
Healthy alternatives to using bleach
An alternative to clean and disinfect without using products that harm our health or the environment is the White vinegar, its (acetic) acid is capable of killing bacteria and is an excellent cleaner. It is a specific vinegar for cleaning. We can use it directly to remove specific stains and on resistant surfaces, and use it diluted - 4 parts of water and one part of vinegar - for a general cleaning.
Casas L, Espinosa A, Borràs-Santos A, Jacobs J, Krop E, Heederik D et al.Occupational & Environmental Medicine (2015). More information.
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