Occupational Asthma Reference

Blanc PD, The role of household exposures in lung disease among women, Eur Respir Monogr, 2003;25:118-130,

Keywords: environmental medicine, gender differential, homemaker, household, housewife, lung disease

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Paul Blanc, University of California San Francisco Paul Blanc

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Household exposures can pose a risk for adverse respiratory effects whose burden is borne disproportionately among women, much of it preventable. Relevant exposure risks fall into three categories. Exposures may arise out of the routine household activities including cooking, cleaning and laundering. Cooking can lead to exposure to particulate material and gases, each with potential adverse respiratory effects. Worldwide, cooking with biomass fuels and coal may carry the greatest health risk for women among domestic exposures. Food preparation can also lead to allergic disease, including asthma associated with handling common foodstuffs. Cleaning-chemical exposures can lead to irritant inhalation, most commonly from mixing misadventures involving hypochlorite bleach. Laundering also carries risks, either from dust-contaminated work clothes or from detergents and related products. A second group of exposures with a potential gender differential derives from domestic indoor-air quality. Exposures can include bioaerosols, environmental tobacco smoke and chemical off-gassing. To the extent that women spend more time indoors in these environments, they are at greater risk of adverse effects. Finally, sporadic yet important domestic exposures can occur through hobby or vocational activities, such as home maintenance or crafts work.

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