'Natural' Household Cleaners Pose Risk Of Developing Allergies, Do They Make Allergies Worse?

First Posted: Sep 26, 2016 04:44 AM EDT

Household products are not safe from chemical ingredients. These products commonly contain ingredients for artificial scents that can worsen allergies of people highly exposed to it, says a new study.

The researchers studied about the enzymes in common household cleaners that have chemicals genetically altered to resemble scents and natural flavors. They said that the products are potent allergens because the genetic modification process of the enzymes changes the products effect on humans making us more susceptible to developing allergies.

The team tried their study on people with occupational exposure to the enzymes such as those working in food processing plants and manufacturing, to evaluate the degree of extent of its effect. It was found that almost a quarter of the 800 employees tested positive for antibodies that fight off the effect of the genetically modified enzymes in their body. And a third of those employees further developed symptoms of rhinitis or asthma.

In the study, the enzyme alpha amylase, commonly found in cleaning products and detergents, caused a significant effect in workers exposed to it as compared to other chemicals present in the products. Almost 45 percent of the workers exposed to alpha-amylase produced antibodies that try to fight off the allergy.

Unfortunately, genetically modified enzymes have gained a lot of attention when it comes to being used as an ingredient in manufacturing household products that offer resemblance to certain 'natural' flavors. Common products include detergent, pharmaceuticals, perfumes, and cleaning items. It now comprises a $10 billion industry.

The authors stated that manufacturers should promote better methods to protect their workers from too much exposure to the chemicals. But others may still be vulnerable because the introduction of new enzymes to the body increases the chances of developing allergies.

The study was published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

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