Tuesday 20 October, 2020

Don't inhale! Cleaning products and smoking have something in common

Cleaning products are bad for your lungs according to a new study.

But, before you give up on cleaning for good, the study recommends you change your choice of cleaners.

A study of over 6000 people by a team from Norway's University of Bergen, found that cleaners affect lung function and women are more affected than men. 

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

Previous studies have looked at the short-term effect of cleaning chemicals on asthma, but this work looked at the longer term.

Prof Cecile Svanes, who led the Bergen team, said: "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."

The study looked at the amount of air participants were able to forcibly exhale over certain time periods to analyse lung function, known as 
“forced expiratory volume” and “forced vital capacity”.

It found that forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) declined 3.6ml per year faster in women who cleaned at home and 3.9 ml per year faster in women who worked as cleaners while forced vital capacity (FVC), or the total amount of air a person can forcibly exhale, declined 4.3 ml per year faster in women who cleaned at home and 7.1 ml per year faster in women who worked as cleaners.

The study also found 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%).

The authors speculate that the decline in lung function is attributable to the irritation that most cleaning chemicals cause on the mucous.

They recommend using microfibre cloths and water instead of harsh chemicals for most cleaning purposes. 

Svanes said public health officials should strictly regulate cleaning products and encourage producers to develop cleaning agents that cannot be inhaled.



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