ADA, Asthma, and Allergies: What Your School Needs To KnowEven though allergies and asthma may only be triggered at certain times, they are still included under the ADA’s considerations required for a safe, healthy environment for people who suffer from these conditions. These accommodations help ensure that children or employees who may need to use a quick-relief inhaler or have a specific allergy can receive accommodations needed to ensure their safety.
1. Cleaning Products Are Poorly Regulated and Commonly Contain Harmful and Toxic ChemicalsExposure to cleaning products (particularly those that contain bleach, quats and fragrances) can be so damaging over the long term that research has proven it is as harmful to our lungs as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. The cleaning product category is not well regulated, and manufacturers only need to prove their ingredients are effective at cleaning or disinfecting – not that they are safe for people with asthma or allergies to come into contact with or breathe in.
2. Bleach, Fragrances, and Quats Pose Serious Risks For People With Asthma & AllergiesAn estimated 37% of childhood asthma cases may be a result of exposure to chemicals in cleaning products. Most cleaning and disinfecting products contain bleach, quats, fragrance ingredients or a combination of these. These 3 ingredients are some of the worst offenders for inducing dangerous allergy and asthma flares in children and adults, as these ingredients are particularly hard on the respiratory system.These chemicals are also part of a growing and important public health concern – here’s what you need to know about bleach, quats, and fragrances:
- Bleach: While many people still believe bleach to be the gold standard in cleaning, many of the things we know about bleach turned out to be myths – including that it has a long shelf-life. Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is a caustic substance that is a respiratory irritant and can cause serious burns to our delicate skin and eye tissue. The impacts of bleach also linger after the initial exposure. For example, some asthma sufferers continue to show reduced lung function the day after exposure to bleach.
- Quats are a class of compounds often used in cleaning products because of their antimicrobial properties. They come with serious health risks, including skin and respiratory irritation and exacerbating asthma and allergy symptoms. Quats linger on surfaces for a long time, so children and staff can be re-exposed to these chemicals even after the products have dried overnight.
- Fragrances: Fragrances often contain harmful chemicals that do not have to be disclosed by manufacturers due to a regulatory loophole (fragrances are considered “trade secrets”). As a result, hundreds of ingredients can be hidden under the term “fragrance” and almost every cleaning and disinfection product contains fragrances. In a research study among asthma sufferers, scented products triggered reactions so severe that 62.8% would be considered disabling under the ADA. Fragrances have also been linked to hormone disruption among other risks – a concern for children because this exposure compounds over time.