Most of us use cleaning products on the regular, but do we stop to think about the potential health effects these products could have on our bodies? According to a recent study, we should absolutely be concerned about which products we use.
At Norway’s University of Bergen, scientists followed 6,000 people (average age 34, mostly women) who regularly used standard cleaning products over a period of 20 years. The study was published in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, and concluded that women who clean often, or work as professional cleaners, suffer a steep decline in lung health equivalent to that of a pack-a-day smoker. Increased rates of asthma were also reported in these women.
The study tested lung function by measuring the amount of air participants were able to forcefully exhale. Results were then compared to questionnaires in which participants divulged the frequency of product usage.
Dr. Cecile Svanes, a professor at the University of Bergen, was the senior author of the study. "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," Svanes remarked.
Scientists attribute such lung damage to the corrosive effect that cleaning chemicals seem to have on the mucous membranes the line our essential airways. Not surprisingly, those who conducted the study advised that we put down our chemical cleaners and opt for microfiber cloths and water instead.
With more and more information coming to light about the perils of chemical cleaners, people are looking for alternatives. (Check out this study conducted last year that shows how nurses who use disinfectants at least once a week are 24-32% more likely to develop lung disease.) Many who fear the potential health risks of using these cleaning products are switching to brands with all natural ingredients, or using natural household cleaners such as white vinegar, baking soda, or liquid castile soap.
And we encourage you to do the same! Your lungs will thank you.