Bleach increases respiratory illnesses 49



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A new medical study has found that cleaning with bleach increases the chances of respiratory illnesses like flu and tonsillitis by nearly 20 percent in children.  It is something that my mother in law always warned me of whilst professing the benefits of cleaning with vinegar, and now it seems to be finding evidential truth.  Have you always been concerned about cleaning with bleach?

The study evaluated families that used bleach in homes in Spain, The Netherlands and Finland, to explore the respiratory impacts of cleaning with bleach.  It took into consideration the issues of age, smoking, sex of participants, presence of mould in the homes and the education levels of parents through appropriate controls and, in their data showed that cleaning with bleach at least once per week increased the risk of respiratory infections by 18 percent across the board.  And some diseases responded even more powerfully, with a 35 percent increase in recurrent tonsillitis and a reported 20 percent increase in the occurrence of the flu.

The study was published in the Occupational & Environmental Medicine journal, taking in a broad cross-section of 9102 participants.

Do you use bleach in your cleaning?  Do your children?  Do you worry about the impacts of it?

What alternatives do you prefer?


Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. I only use vinegar and carb soda and sometimes a little old fashioned powder ajax to clean my house. It all works very well. Bleach and other cleaners just about knock me out….

  2. Never use bleach, or products containing it. Is an absolute no-no if you want an efficient septic system.

  3. Working as a cleaner in a nursing home I was told not to use bleach. I suggested I use vinegar but that was not allowed either. The only thing I was allowed to use was the chemicals they bought from a particular company as they were they only thing deemed to be safe. I had never concidered any chemical to be safe especially around the vunerable elderly.

  4. I can so believe this! My friend worked as a cleaner for a very wealthy family where there were seven bathrooms and the lady insisted everywhere in the house be cleaned with bleach! This friend is the most healthy person on the planet, but after working there for a couple of years she developed chronic hay fever, asthma and auto immune symptoms. Eventually she put two and two together and left, and has fortunately regained most of her good health, except for the nasal and respiratory problems.

  5. Ridiculous. It is simply sodium chloride (salt) and dissipates with plain water into parts per million far less than oceanic salt water. Does no environmental damage whatsoever. Anything that you use in concentrate amounts – including vinegar and carb soda – will be dangerous if misused.

    3 REPLY
    • No, bleach is not salty water/sodium chloride. Chlorine is the basis for the most commonly used bleaches, for example, the solution of sodium hypochlorite, which is so ubiquitous that most simply call it “bleach”, and calcium hypochlorite, the active compound in “bleaching powder”. Oxidizing bleaching agents that do not contain chlorine most often are based on peroxides, such as hydrogen peroxide, sodium percarbonate and sodium perborate. While most bleaches are oxidizing agents, some are reducing agents such as sodium dithionite and sodium borohydride.

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