Cleaning chemicals 'as bad for women's lungs as smoking'

Cleaning chemicals 'as bad for women's lungs as smoking'

Cleaning chemicals 'as bad for women's lungs as smoking'

Researchers found that the decline in lung function of women working as cleaners or regularly using cleaning products at home was to the same degree as smoking 20 cigarettes a day over 10 to 20 years. "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 researchers followed more than 6,200 women and men for over 20 years.

The measures of lung function were forced expiratory volume, which is how much air a person can force out in the first second of an exhale following a deep breath in; and forced vital capacity, which is the total air can be forced out from the lungs after a deep breath.

In addition, the results also showed that women who cleaned were also more likely to have asthma, with 12.3 per cent of those who cleaned at home and 13.7 per cent of those who cleaned at work suffering from the condition, compared to 9.6 per cent of those who did not clean.

A similar decline was seen in women who cleaned professionally.

While the cleaning agents apparently did not hurt men, they had a major negative effect on women's lungs.

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The study also did not find that men who cleaned, either at home or at work, experienced greater decline in FEV1 or FVC than men who did not. These women, the authors wrote, might "constitute a selected socioeconomic group".

The researcher said he had expected cleaning agents to have a negative effect on people's health.

Doctors suggest that repeatedly inhaling particles of cleaning products affects the airways by causing the mucous membranes lining the airways to become irritated, which over time results in persistent changes in the airways and airway remodelling.

Study's authors concluded that, in the long-run, cleaning products chemicals cause irreversible damage to the lungs and asked people to limit the use of such products. Previous research has found that male lungs are more resistant to damage from various irritants including tobacco smoke and wood dust.

"The easiest advice is to avoid using so many chemicals when cleaning for most tasks it is enough to use water and a microfiber cloth", Svanes said.

He added that public health officials should strictly regulate cleaning products and encourage producers to develop cleaning agents that can not be inhaled.

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