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(Sharing Information on Toxics in Everyday Life

& Providing Healthier Alternatives)


Asthma Linked to Chemicals


As the Massachusetts Senate considers the “Healthy Cleaning Products Act” — legislation aimed at reducing asthma from cleaning products used in schools, hospitals and day care centers — a new study emerges linking early exposure to certain chemicals with increased risk of childhood asthma


The study, released by the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, associates childhood exposure to chemicals and pollutants such as those found in weed killers, pesticides, dust, animals, fuel oil, soot and exhaust with an increased risk of developing asthma. Researchers found that children exposed to weed killers in the first year of life were 4.5 times more likely to develop asthma before age 5 than children not exposed to the chemicals. Additionally, the study found that babies in day care before 4 months of age had an increased risk of developing asthma later in life.


Many of the chemicals found in common cleaning products are known asthmagens (substances that cause asthma or can trigger an attack). Chemicals such as formaldehyde (found in glues in carpets and furniture), and many chemicals found in air fresheners, disinfectants and other cleaning products have been shown to trigger asthma attacks in both children and adults.


It is a good idea to be aware of these chemicals and the effects they can have on students and center workers. Many states and local school districts are now working with the EPA to address these issues and to replace dangerous chemicals with less toxic substances.


More information can be found at:


Babies Harmed by Pollution too, Health Finder, 12/19/03


Early Life Environmental Risk Factors for Asthma: Findings from the Children’s Health Study, The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences NIH/DHHS, Muhammad Towhid Salam, Yu-Fen Li, Bryan Langholz, Frank Davis Gilliland,


Indoor air is becoming polluted by powerful household chemicals, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/23/03


EPA’s website dedicated to helping schools “Buy Clean”


Facts in Action, March 2004


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