A comprehensive study revealed that women who clean using chemicals both at work and at home have faster lung function decline.
According to the study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the accelerated lung function decline was compared to “smoking somewhat less than 20 pack-years.”
Researchers believe that the reason behind this is due to inhalation of small traces of toxic cleaning agents for long periods of time. This would irritate the mucous membranes, causing changes in breathing and in the airways.
“The take-home message of this study is that in the long run cleaning chemicals very likely cause rather substantial damage to your lungs,” said Øistein Svanes, lead author of the study and a doctoral student at the University of Bergen in Norway.
To reach this conclusion, Svanes and his team examined 6,230 participants three times over 20 years, as part of the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. Out of all the participants, 53 percent were women. Researchers controlled for several factors before reaching the conclusion such as smoking, body-mass index, and socioeconomic status.
All respondents reported how often they had cleans, and used chemicals while doing so. 85 percent of the women said that they were the main cleaner at home, while 46.5 of the men responded the same. Lower numbers were among those who were occupational cleaners with under nine percent of the women and under two percent of the men reported being employed as such.
The group also took lung function tests. One was called the maximum forced vital capacity assessment (FVC) which measured how much air they could exhale at once, and the maximum forced expired volume in one second. The other test was the FEV1 which measured just the first second of forced air.
The women who reported as being main cleaners in their home declined 3.6 ml per year fast in FEV1 and 4.3 ml faster in FVC. Those who were occupation cleaners declined 3.9 ml per year in FEV1, and 7.1 ml in FVC.
Researchers also noticed that asthma was prevalent among those who cleaned at home or work, as opposed to people who did not clean. The men who cleaned, either as employees or at work, did not experience greater decline in the exhale tests.
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