Exposure to the fumes emitted from solvents and cleaning products at home may increase the risk of childhood asthma, say researchers based on findings from a recent study. Researchers found the levels of indoor volatile organic compounds were significantly higher in the homes of children with asthma. Volatile organic compounds are found in solvents, paints, floor adhesives, cleaning products, polishes, room fresheners, fitted carpets, and cigarette smoke.
Three-quarters of the children in the study had at least one parent with an allergy, and over half had at least one parent with asthma. Researchers observed that those children exposed to total VOC levels of 60 micrograms per cubic meter or more were four-times more likely to have asthma than those who were not exposed. The highest risks were for benzene, followed by ethylbenzene and toluene. For every 10-unit increase in benzene and toluene, asthma risk increased nearly two and three times, respectively.