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More Frequent Disinfectant Use Tied to Uncontrolled Asthma

FRIDAY, Feb. 26, 2021 -- Increased use of disinfectants during the COVID-19 pandemic may be tied to higher rates of uncontrolled asthma among asthma patients, according to research recently published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

Kamal Eldeirawi, Ph.D., R.N., from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues conducted an online survey in May 2020 of 795 U.S. adults with asthma (81 percent female; 83 percent White; 71 percent with four-year college degree or higher). Cleaning habits and hand hygiene frequency were assessed based on recollection before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the results of the survey, nearly 40 percent of respondents reported uncontrolled asthma in the previous four weeks. More than 95 percent of respondents reported increased handwashing practices, with 89 percent reporting increased use of alcohol-based sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic. The percentage of participants who reported household disinfectant use five or more times per week increased 138 percent for disinfectant wipes, 121 percent for disinfectant sprays, 155 percent for bleach and water solutions, and 89 percent for other disinfecting liquids during the pandemic. Use of any type of household disinfectants five or more times per week significantly increased the odds of uncontrolled asthma in unadjusted analyses. These findings persisted significantly for wipes and other liquids in adjusted analyses.

"Health care providers should recognize the potential impact of cleaning/disinfecting practices on people with asthma, particularly the use of known asthmagenics such as bleach and other disinfectants," the authors write.

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