A medical expert has cautioned parents against use of perfumes and disinfecting cleaning products such as bleaches with strong smells, saying these are potent to flare up respiratory problems such as runny nose and asthma in children.
Secretary General, Nigerian Thoracic Society, Dr Olanisun Adewole, speaking on the effects of many household chemicals, stated that exposure to some chemical substances with pungent odour has been linked to higher rates of respiratory and other infections.
He declared that “when an individual inhales a strong pungent smell, the individual can develop immediately a respiratory problem like a runny nose, catarrh or rhinitis. Some also will experience watery eyes, especially if it is a confined place.
“Such an allergic reaction, as a runny nose, can affect the integrity of the lining of the nose, thus leading to some other bacterial infections coming up.”
Dr Adewole, a consultant chest physician, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, Ile-Ife, Osun State reiterating that long term exposure to disinfecting cleaning products and other airway irritants can lead to respiratory problems later in life, warned that it could also be a trigger for asthma in individuals with the genetic tendency for the problem.
While disinfecting cleaning products such as bleach might not be a source of irritants when used outside the home or in much diluted concentrations, the expert said individuals who are at risk would have noticed that by exposure to some substances with strong smells, they experience weepy eyes or nose and so on.
The chest medicine expert, however, assured that parents need not be discouraged in using disinfecting cleaning products such as bleaches if precautionary measures are taken.
“Even bleach may not be so much a problem to us because most people washing do so outside; some contract their cleaning out. Even when it is used in cleaning floors and other surfaces, it is highly diluted,” he stated.
Dr Adebola Orimadegun, a consultant paediatrician, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State, stated that parents need not stop but ensure thorough cleaning of homes with disinfecting cleaning products such as bleaches, declaring that the possibility of over cleaning one’s home is not possible and it is safe.
He declared: “The concept of over-cleaning is not practicable. In fact, cleanliness is part of what women should maintain, especially in tropics and it would not do their children any harm. This would not affect the child developing immunity to fight off infections either.
“Take malaria as an example, if a child is over protected against malaria, the child’s immunity might be relatively lowered compared to another child that was not that protected against the disease. But it does not mean that the child is completely not immune to malaria.”