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House Cleaning Is Hazardous To Women's Health

asthma allergies house cleaners lung function

Now there's a valid excuse for women and professional house cleaners to ease up on their cleaning activities: cleaning products are toxic and inhibit women's breathing over time. However, men are not affected.


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Women' Breathing At Risk By Using Cleaning Products

Women who work as house cleaners or regularly use cleaning products of sprays in the home appear to experience a greater decline in lung function over time than women who do not clean, according to new research. Cleaning up house exposes women to chemical agents with potentially harmful effects to their respiratory system, and increases their risk of asthma and respiratory symptoms. This is especially true for professional house cleaners.

Cleaning Products Can Inhibit Women's Breathing

Researchers from universities in Norway recently conducted a study that was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care and Medicine. The study set out to investigate the long-term effects of professional home cleaning and routine home cleaning on lung function decline and chronic airway obstruction.

"While the short-term effects of cleaning chemicals on asthma are becoming increasingly well documented, we lack knowledge of the long-term impact," senior author Cecile Svanes said in a statement. "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."

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Study Participants Were Tracked For 20 Years

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Researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway analyzed data from 6,230 participants in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey.
The study participants, whose average age was 34 when they enrolled in the study, were followed for more than 20 years.

Women Using Cleaning Products Saw A Decline In Their Breathing

As compared to women who did not do house cleaning, the FEV1, or amount of air a person can forcibly exhale in one second declined more rapidly in women responsible for cleaning at home and as occupational cleaners. The same was found for decline the total amount of air a person can forcibly exhale (FVC), which declined 4.3 ml/year faster in women who cleaned at home and 7.1 ml/year faster in women who worked as cleaners.

Men Who Clean Are Not Affected

Both cleaning sprays and other cleaning agents were associated with accelerated FEV1 decline. Cleaning was not significantly associated with lung function decline in men or with chronic airway obstruction, and was "comparable to smoking somewhat less than 20 pack- years."

“That level of lung impairment was surprising at first, said lead study author Øistein Svanes, a doctoral student also at the Department for Clinical Science. "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."

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Cleaning Chemicals Can Cause Substantial Damage To Your Lungs

The research concluded that women cleaning at home or working as occupational cleaners did have accelerated decline in their lung function, suggesting that exposures related to house cleaners may constitute a risk to long-term lung and respiratory health. A more natural cleaning option is to clean house with white vinegar and baking soda whenever possible, wear a mask during cleaning activities, and switch over to eco-friendly soaps and “allergy free” cleaners to sanitize your home.