Women who use conventional cleaning products once a week damage their lungs as much as if they were smoking a pack of cigarettes a day
Women who regularly used household or industrial cleaning products for 20 years had as much lung damage as if they’d smoked a pack a day over the same period, a new European study finds.
Scientists at Norway’s University of Bergen tracked 6,000 people’s use of cleaning products for over two decades.
Women who used who frequently used cleaning products had a significant difference in lung function from women who did not. The difference was less significant in men. It’s unclear why.
Researchers say it could be because men who work as cleaners were being compared to men with occupations that exposed them to other harmful chemicals.
“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,” said led author of the study Dr. Cecile Svanes, a professor at the University of Bergen in Norway.
Their fear proved correct.
Women who used the cleaning products regularly had a markedly decreased lung capacity and higher rates of asthma.
“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,” said Svanes.
Researchers attribute the decline in lung function to the damage cleaning agents cause to the mucous membranes lining the airways.