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Women who use cleaning chemicals found to be at higher risk of lung function decline


A study published in American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reported that women who use cleaning chemicals are at higher risk of both lung function decline and asthma compared to those who do not. According to the authors of the study, titled “Cleaning at Home and at Work in Relation to Lung Function Decline and Airway Obstruction,” it is better to use milder and natural cleaning alternatives to avoid damaging the respiratory system while cleaning.

  • Cleaning tasks often expose individuals to chemical agents with potentially harmful effects to the respiratory system.
  • There have been reports that the usage of these chemical agents may increase the risk of asthma and respiratory symptoms among women who work as professional cleaners and in women who clean at home. However, the long-term effects of cleaning agents on respiratory health remained unknown.
  • The study looked into the long-term effects of occupational cleaning and home cleaning on lung function decline and airway obstruction.
  • The study participants were observed for more than twenty years.
  • The researchers studied data from 6,230 participants with at least a lung function measurement from 22 study centers. The data were analyzed with mixed linear models that were adjusted for potential confounders.
  • Women who cleaned at home or worked as occupational cleaners had an accelerated decline in lung function. This implies that exposure to chemicals from cleaning products pose a possible threat to long-term respiratory health.

Researchers cautioned that public health officials must apply stricter measures when overseeing the production of cleaning products to ensure that they are safe for regular use.

Journal reference: 

Svanes ØC, Bertelsen RJ, Lygre SH, Carsin AE, Antó JM, Forsberg B, García-García JM, Gullón JA, Heinrich J, Holm M, et al.  CLEANING AT HOME AND AT WORK IN RELATION TO LUNG FUNCTION DECLINE AND AIRWAY OBSTRUCTION. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 2018 Feb 16.

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