WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A new study reveals that chemicals found in cleaning sprays could be harmful to your respiratory system.
- The study was recently conducted by researchers from Norway universities to establish a connection between cleaners and lung failure.
- Published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the scientists concluded that inhaling the harmful agents in cleaning products for a 20-year period is similar to smoking 20 sticks of cigarettes every day for 10 to 20 years.
A team of researchers examined the lungs of over 6,200 women and men from 22 health facilities for the study. They monitored the participants over a 20-year course. During that period, the subjects were asked if they cleaned their homes and if they were professional cleaners. And they were also asked to record how much they used common liquid cleaning products.
Senior author Cecile Svanes said: “While the short-term effects of cleaning chemicals on asthma are becoming increasingly well documented, we lack knowledge of the long-term impact. We feared that such chemicals, by steadily causing a little damage to the airways day after day, year after year, might accelerate the rate of lung function decline that occurs with age.”
Their findings: “Women who cleaned as little as once a week had an accelerated lung decline risk.”
The study claims that using cleaning products for 20 years is like smoking 20 cigarettes on a daily basis for 10 to 20 years for women. For men, those who cleaned did not produce the same decline as women who cleaned.
The researchers said they were surprised by the results at first.
“However, when you think of inhaling small particles from cleaning agents that are meant for cleaning the floor and not your lungs, maybe it is not so surprising after all,” they said.
Cleaning chemicals are believed to irritate the mucous membranes that line the airways. And that results in damage over time. The British Lung Foundation’s recommendation is to use products that are “allergy friendly” as they have fewer chemicals.
The team acknowledges the fact that their study has very few participants “who did not clean,” but they still believe that their analysis is strong.
“The take-home message of this study is that in the long run cleaning chemicals very likely cause rather substantial damage to your lungs. These chemicals are usually unnecessary; microfiber cloths and water are more than enough for most purposes,” they wrote.