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

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"The small particles from the sprays can remain in the air for hours after cleaning".

However, the ratio between FEV1 to FVC - which is a key metric in determining chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - did not decline more rapidly in the women who cleaned. The study also failed to find whether men who cleaned, either at home or at work, suffered a greater decline in FEV1 or FVC than men who did not. The authors believe this group of women "constitute a selected socioeconomic group".

The researchers compared the damage to what some cigarette smokers would experience.

He added that it was not possible to compare cleaning and smoking with regard to how harmful they can be.

The cleaning products may both irritate the lungs and cause persistent changes over time.

Inhaling cleaning products' chemicals raises asthma risk up to 43 per cent in that time. "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", study co-author Cecile Svanes says in a press release.

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

Researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway based their results on data from 6,235 participants in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. The average age of participants was 34 at the beginning of the study and the participants were followed for about 20 years.

Study limitations include the fact that the study population included very few women who did not clean at home or work.

Professional cleaners comprised 57 men and 293 women.

Women who cleaned at home or as work were also more likely to have asthma than those who did not clean.

But for now, in light of the results, experts advise skipping the harsh chemicals for everyday cleaning, and using hot water and a microfibre cloth, or a steam cleaner, instead. Meanwhile, "cleaning was not significantly associated with lung function decline in men". Previous research has found that male lungs are more resistant to damage from various irritants including tobacco smoke and wood dust.

"That level of lung impairment was surprising at first", said lead author Øistein Svanes, a doctoral student at the University of Bergen.

"Public health officials should strictly regulate cleaning products and encourage producers to develop cleaning agents that can not be inhaled".

The participants all reported how often they had cleaned, and used chemicals in doing so. You will not need a lot of chemicals after all, when cleaning.

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