Women Who Use Spray Cleaners May as Well Smoke Pack a Day

Study finds decline in lung function among women who regularly use spray cleaners
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2018 3:58 PM CST
Updated Feb 18, 2018 10:30 AM CST
Women Who Use Spray Cleaners May as Well Smoke Pack a Day
Study finds women who regularly use spray cleaners are doing some serious damage to their lungs.   (Getty Images/~UserGI15966731)

Women who regularly clean at home or professionally are damaging their lungs in a way comparable to smoking a pack of cigarettes every day for 10 to 20 years due to the inhalation of cleaning sprays, according to a recently published study out of Norway. "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," study co-author Cecile Svanes says in a press release. Researchers looked at data from more than 6,200 people over 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.

"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," study co-author Øistein Svanes says. Researchers say they believe the reason is the irritation that cleaning chemicals cause to the mucus membranes found in airways. And here's the kicker: "These chemicals are usually unnecessary; microfiber cloths and water are more than enough for most purposes," Øistein Svanes says. A representative of the British Lung Association tells the BBC that people should make sure their homes are well ventilated and use liquid cleaners instead of spray cleaners. Oddly, researchers didn't find a similar loss of lung function in men who cleaned. (Meet the last three people to still use an iron lung.)

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