Cleaning With Bleach May Lead to Childhood Infections

A splash of bleach can kill germs on a kitchen counter, but it may also cause health problems in children, a new study finds.

Children in the study who lived in homes or went to schools where bleach was used for cleaning had higher rates of influenza, tonsillitis and other infections, compared with kids who weren’t exposed to bleach, the researchers found.

The increased risk of infection was modest, but the findings, published online today (April 2) in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, may spur further research into health effects linked to the cleaning agent, the researchers said.

“The high frequency of use of disinfecting cleaning products — caused by erroneous belief, reinforced by advertising, that our homes should be free of microbes — makes the modest effects reported in our study of public health concern,” the researchers wrote in the study.