The American Cleaning Institute (www.cleaninginstitute.org
) and the Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association, the trade associations for the cleaning product supply chain in the U.S. and Canada, offered the following response to a study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) examining the potential impact of cleaning products on childhood asthma:
“With a severe flu season underway and the threat of a global pandemic, it’s important to avoid confusion among parents and other consumers that would prevent them from using the very disinfectants that are proven to effectively kill germs and therefore protect public health during times like these.
“Proper use of household cleaners and disinfectants is an important contributor to infection control and healthy homes, especially in households with young children. Similarly, proper use of various laundry and dish detergent products wash away dirt and soils that can accumulate on our clothes and dishes, respectively.
“We do appreciate the researchers amplifying our long-standing advice that adults should read cleaning product labels carefully to ensure that the product is used safely, effectively and for its intended use.
“However, context is key in trying to wade through the findings of the research that attempts to tie together the use of cleaning products and alleged health effects on children.
“A cornerstone of statistics is that correlation does not equal causation. Even the authors of the study note in their conclusion ‘our results do not prove causation.’ Recall bias and social desirability bias are two primary drivers of inaccurate self-reported data in questionnaires, and we need to be aware of this when interpreting those findings.
“Further, on the issue of children’s exposure to cleaning products, the researchers note that they ‘do not have data on the child’s location during the cleaning, whether the cleaned areas were rinsed or ventilated afterward, and other factors that would influence persistent exposure.’
“Manufacturers take safety very seriously. Thorough research is conducted on the safety of cleaning products before they ever come to market.”
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