Women Who Use Spray Cleaners May as Well Smoke Pack a Day
Women Who Use Spray Cleaners May as Well Smoke Pack a Day
Lung function declines faster in women who clean. Credit ATS
19 February, 2018, 07:27
Women who clean using chemicals at home and at work show faster declines in some lung function, according to a new study spanning 20 years.
Dr Samantha Walker, from Asthma UK, said: "It is deeply concerning that this study shows cleaning products can cause long-term lung damage". They found the amount of air women could forcibly exhale in a second and the amount of air they could forcibly exhale total declined faster in those who cleaned at home or professionally.
The cleaning products appeared to affect the lung capacity of women more than men, though the study noted that there were fewer men enrolled in the study.
For their assessment, the researchers examined the lungs of more than 6,200 women and men from 22 health institutions, following them over a course of 20 years.
"While the short-term effects of cleaning chemicals on asthma are becoming increasingly well documented, we lack knowledge of the long-term impact", explained senior study author Cecile Svanes, MD, PhD.
The men who cleaned, in the meantime, did not experience greater decline in the exhale tests than those who did not clean.
In fact, continued exposure is about as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 10-20 years.
Most of the women studied said they were the primary cleaners in their homes, compared with less than half of the male participants who reported being the cleaners in their own.
"There were indeed very few men who worked as cleaners, only 57 people, which made it hard to detect a possible difference", Oistein Svanes, the first author of the study, told NRK.
The researcher said he had expected cleaning agents to have a negative effect on people's health.
The team suggested that the decline in lung function could be caused by chemicals in cleaning products irritating the mucous membranes which line the lungs, which over time can lead to changes in the airways.
"The take-home message of this study is that in the long run cleaning chemicals very likely cause rather substantial damage to your lungs", said Øistein Svanes, the lead author, a doctoral student at the University of Bergen in Norway. His suggestion is to develop cleaning products that can't be inhaled, or use simpler cleaning methods.
Prof Oistein Svanes added that cleaning chemicals are "usually unnecessary" to use, saying that a good old microfibre cloth and water are 'more than enough for most purposes'.
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