A worrying new study has found that many of the most common household cleaning products are having a dangerous effect on our lungs.
The study, which took place at University of Bergen, Norway, was carried out on more than 6,000 cleaners over 20 years.
It showed that over time, people who were exposed to harsh cleaning chemicals, the ones in all of our cupboards, experienced lung damage at a faster rate than occurs naturally with age. The damage was comparable to smoking 20 cigarettes a day over 10 to 20 years
Professor Cecile Svanes, who led the team of scientists, said that they “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.
“The take home message of this study is that in the long run cleaning chemicals very likely cause rather substantial damage to your lungs.”
The lung function of the study’s participants was measured by how much air people were able to forcibly breathe out, and the amount in the woman who cleaned declined over years.
However, no difference was seen between the men who cleaned and those who did not, which researchers put down to women being more susceptible to the effects of the chemicals.
What can be done to avoid the damage?
These are scary statistics, and it might seem tricky to avoid chemical cleaning products, since we all want clean houses However, there are ways you can reduce any potential damage.
The scientists actually concluded that in most cases, you don’t even NEED to use chemical products.
“These chemicals are usually unnecessary. Microfibre cloths and water are more than enough for most purposes.”
But in those cases that you really do need chemicals, Sarah MacFadyen from the British Lung Foundation advises that, “ensuring we keep our homes well ventilated, using liquid cleaners instead of sprays and checking that our cookers and heaters are in good working order will help protect us and prevent everyday products impacting on our lungs.”