Household cleaning products may harm lung function in women

The decline in lung function is attributable to the irritation that most cleaning chemicals cause on mucous membranes lining the airways

A similar decline was seen in women who cleaned professionally. Women, rather than men, were found to be at risk.

The authors - led by researchers at the University of Bergen - said that a variety of potential irritants to the lungs are found in domestic products - including bleach and ammonia.

"The small particles from the sprays can remain in the air for hours after cleaning".

"People who have worked as cleaners or done household cleaning for 20 years have reduced lung function equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day, for the same period of time", says PHD-candidate Øistein Svanes, at the Department of Clinical Science, at the University of Bergen. According to the study's authors, these chemicals irritate the mucosa of the respiratory tract and lungs.

Smoking is believed to be the main cause of lung cancer.

Researchers looked at data from more than 6,200 people over 20 years. The participants were at average age of 34 when they enrolled in the study, Newsweek reports.

The men who cleaned, in the meantime, did not experience greater decline in the exhale tests than those who did not clean.

However, the ratio between FEV1 to FVC - which is a key metric in determining chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - did not decline more rapidly in the women who cleaned.

Women who cleaned at home or at work were also more likely to have asthma than those who did not clean.

The results showed that women who cleaned their house as little as once a week or as professional cleaners, they had an "accelerated" decline in lung capacity. Previous research has found that male lungs are more resistant to damage from various irritants including tobacco smoke and wood dust.

They recommend using microfibre cloths and water instead of harsh chemicals for most cleaning purposes. His suggestion is to develop cleaning products that can't be inhaled, or use simpler cleaning methods.

They then examined the results alongside a questionnaire in which participants had been asked about the frequency of their use of cleaning products.

"It is deeply concerning that this study shows cleaning products can cause long-term lung damage for people with asthma".

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