What cleaning products can do to your health
When we clean our home or if you work as a cleaner you are often using some sort of cleaning spray or cleaning product.
There has been much talk about how the use of these chemicals can be harmful to our health and also our environment.
Exposure to cleaning sprays and chemical agents can potentially cause harm to the respiratory system resulting in the increased risk of asthma and other respiratory problems.
However so far, the long-term effects of cleaning agents on respiratory function have been unclear.
Researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway investigated the long-term effects of occupational cleaning and cleaning at home on the decline in lung function and chronic airway obstruction.
The researchers speculate that the decline in lung function can be attributed to the irritation caused by chemical agents which can harm the mucous lining of the airways.
The researchers analysed data from 6230 participants from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS).
The average age of the participants was 34 years when they enrolled in the study and they were followed for more than 20 years during the ECRHS study.
The study found that as compared to women not engaged in cleaning, the forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), or the amount of air a person can forcibly exhale in one second, declined 3.6 milliliters (ml)/year faster in women who cleaned at home and 3.9 ml/year faster in women who worked as cleaners.
Forced vital capacity (FVC), or the total amount of air a person can forcibly exhale, declined 4.3 ml/year faster in women who cleaned at home and 7.1 ml/year faster in women who worked as cleaners compared to those who did not clean at all.
There was also a decline in lung function in the women working as cleaners which the researchers found surprising.
The researchers speculate that the decline in lung function can be attributed to the irritation caused by chemical agents which can harm the mucous lining of the airways. This damage to the lining then leads to long-term changes in the airways and results in airway remodelling.
The study did not find that the ratio of FEV1 to FVC decline more quickly in women who cleaned than in those who did not. This metric is used when diagnosing and monitoring patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.
The study also did find that asthma was more prevalent in women who cleaned at home (12.3 percent) or at work (13.7 percent) compared to those who did not clean (9.6 percent).
The study also found that cleaning was not significantly associated with FEV1 or FVC in men who cleaned compared to those that did not.
While we are aware of the short-term effect of cleaning products on our health, this study indicates a substantial long-term damage to lung function in women who clean and use cleaning products.
For most cleaning a microfibre cloth and some water is all you need, as suggested by the researchers. Or you could try some amazing homemade cleaning products which will not harm your health or the air that you breathe.
Source: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
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