Cleaning products linked to poorer lung function

Women who clean at home or work face increased lung function decline

Lung function declines faster in women who clean. Credit ATS

Researchers followed more than 6,000 participants over 20 years and found that women who used cleaning products at home or at work saw dramatic decreases in lung functionality over the years.

Women have another reason to make men pick up a larger share of housework, with a new study that says cleaning at home affects a female's lung function but not a male's.

United Kingdom experts said people should keep their homes well ventilated and use liquid cleaners instead of sprays. They were categorized as "cleaning", "not cleaning", and "occupational cleaning".

The team looked at data from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey.

"Think of particles from cleansers meant for floors, not lungs, and maybe it's no surprise". Pack-year is calculated by multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked a day by the number of years they smoked, wherein a pack-year is defined by one pack of cigarettes (20 cigarettes) per day for a year. More research will be needed to track the longterm effects of working with cleaning sprays.

The women who cleaned at home declined 3.6 ml per year faster in FEV1, and 4.3 ml faster in FVC.

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.

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According to the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Bergen in western Norway, women who use cleaning agents regularly at home have reduced lung capacity over a long period of time in contrast to those who do not clean regularly. 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.

Explaining the medical effects on the lungs, the researchers said "low-grade inflammation over many years could possibly lead to persistent damage to the airways, alternatively, persistent damage could result from continued exposure after onset of cleaning-related asthma".

Experts say they cause damage to airways, speeding up the decline of our lungs as we age.

The study also shows that cleaners have 40 per cent higher risk of developing asthma than others.

"Microfiber cloths and water", he said, "are more than enough for most purposes".

His suggestion is to develop cleaning products that can't be inhaled, or use simpler cleaning methods.

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