Research links poor lung function to cleaning chemicals

19 February 2018

Research suggests that regular exposure to cleaning products has a significant effect on lung function.

According to the study of 6,000 people by a team of the University of Bergen, Norway, women appeared to be worse affected than men.

The researchers point out that cleaning chemicals are "unnecessary" and microfibre cloth and water are "enough for most purposes".

According to UK experts, people should keep their homes well ventilated and use liquid cleaners instead of sprays.

The team considered data from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey.

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

Professor Cecile Svanes, who led the Bergen team, says, "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," BBC reported.

In the study, published in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, adults were followed for over 20 years and their lung function was measured by looking at how much air people could forcibly breathe out. The researchers found the amount declined more over the years in women who cleaned.

''People who have worked as cleaners or done household cleaning for 20 years have reduced lung function equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day, for the same period of time,'' says PhD-candidate Řistein Svanes, who is the main author of the study.

According to Svanes, the findings might not be surprising, considering all the small particles that come with cleaning products.

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