Cleaning as bad for women's lungs as 20 cigarettes a day

Glen Mclaughlin
February 19, 2018

Study's authors concluded that, in the long-run, cleaning products chemicals cause irreversible damage to the lungs and asked people to limit the use of such products.

Researchers at the University of Bergen, Norway found that women who worked as cleaners, or had regularly used cleaning sprays for 20 years, had decline in their lung function equivalent to if they'd been smoking 20 cigarettes a day over the same period.

The study also found that men who cleaned regularly were not affected by using cleaning products.

The products seemed to affect the lung capacity of women who took part in the study more than men, though they noted the number of male participants was small compared to the number of female participants.

The measures of lung function were forced expiratory volume, which is how much air a person can force out in the first second of an exhale following a deep breath in; and forced vital capacity, which is the total air can be forced out from the lungs after a deep breath.

"While the short-term effects of cleaning chemicals on asthma are becoming increasingly well documented, we lack knowledge of the long-term impact", said Cecile Svanes, a professor at University of Bergen.

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The women who cleaned at home declined 3.6 ml per year faster in FEV1, and 4.3 ml faster in FVC. The number of men who worked as occupational cleaners was also small, and their exposure to cleaning agents was likely different from that of women working as cleaning professionals.

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.

The researchers said people should be careful choosing how they clean the surfaces in their homes.

"In the long run, cleaning chemicals very likely cause rather substantial damage to your lungs", said the lead author of the study, Prof Oistein Svanes. The scientists found that asthma was more prevalent in women who cleaned at home (12.3 %) or at work (13.7 %) compared to those who did not clean (9.6 %).

He added that public health officials should strictly regulate cleaning products and encourage producers to develop cleaning agents that can not be inhaled.

"These chemicals are usually unnecessary - microfibre cloths and water are more than enough for most purposes", Svanes added.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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