Use of cleaning agents can damage lungs

Frederick Owens
February 19, 2018

The academics found there was no difference in long-term lung function between men who said they regularly cleaned and those who did not.

The study found that the accelerated lung function decline in the women working as cleaners was "comparable to smoking somewhat less than 20 pack- years". However, they found no such effect on the lungs of men who did the cleaning as part of their domestic chores or professionally.

"When you think of inhaling small particles from cleaning agents that are meant for cleaning the floor and not your lungs, maybe the news is not so surprising after all", he explained.

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.

The authors suggest that the reduction in lung capacity happens because cleaning chemicals irritate the mucous membranes lining the airways, which over time results in persistent changes in the airways.

He added that it was not possible to compare cleaning and smoking with regard to how harmful they can be.

"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 researchers analyzed data that followed thousands of people over the course of 20 years, including measures of lung function and surveys in which the subjects reported their cleaning habits.

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Asthma was also more prevalent among those who cleaned at home or work, as opposed to those who did not clean, they report (12.3 percent, 13.7 percent, and 9.6 percent, respectively).

The researchers compared the damage to what some cigarette smokers would experience.

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

Inhaling cleaning products' chemicals raises asthma risk up to 43 per cent in that time.

However, there hasn't been a study to show the effects of the chemicals on healthy subjects, on the long-run.

'These chemicals are usually unnecessary; microfibre cloths and water are more than enough for most purposes'.

"Ensuring we keep our homes well ventilated, using liquid cleaners instead of sprays and checking that our cookers and heaters are in good working order will help protect us and prevent everyday products impacting on our lungs".

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