Women who clean using chemicals at home and at work show faster declines in some lung function, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway recently conducted a study to determine how cleaners may contribute to lung decline over time.
Researchers analyzed data from 6,235 participants in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey.
The participants, whose average age was 34 when they enrolled, were followed for more than 20 years.
They found the amount of air women could forcibly exhale in a second and the amount of air they could forcibly exhale total declined faster in those who cleaned at home or professionally.
They also found asthma was 12.3% to 13.7% more prevalent in women who cleaned.
Women cleaning at home or working as occupational cleaners had accelerated decline in lung function, suggesting that exposures related to cleaning activities may constitute a risk to long-term respiratory health.
Meanwhile, “cleaning was not significantly associated with lung function decline in men.”
“While the short-term effects of cleaning chemicals on asthma are becoming increasingly well documented, we lack knowledge of the long-term impact,” said senior study author Dr. Cecile Svanes.
“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.”
“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 lead study author Øistein Svanes.
These chemicals are usually unnecessary; microfiber cloths and water are more than enough for most purposes.
The researchers said people should be careful choosing household cleaning and personal hygiene products. The study was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.