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Health: Cleaning causes lung damage comparable to 20 cigarettes at once


Cleaning agents damage the lungs as much as intensive smoking

Hardly anyone likes to clean. Those who avoid cleaning up obviously live healthier lives. A new study has shown that aggressive cleaning agents can damage the lungs of women who do a lot of cleaning in the long term. No corresponding health effects were found in men. But they also do much less housework than women.

  • According to the study, frequent cleaning is as harmful to health as smoking
  • Reduced lung function due to cleaning chemicals
  • Cleaners are at higher risk of asthma
  • Health effects only found in women

Cleaning can endanger health

Last year, a study by the University of Brussels provided evidence that cleaning should be a health hazard for men.

At the time, the scientists reported that the reason for this was that, for example, men use breathing masks and protective gloves less often and misjudge the mixture of chemicals, and because of this recklessness or ignorance, they are at greater risk of, among other things, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and pneumonia .

A study by Norwegian researchers has now shown that cleaning is a danger to the lungs - and that of women. Accordingly, it affects lung function as much as years of heavy smoking.

Lung function similarly reduced as in smokers

As the scientists at the Norwegian University of Bergen report in the "American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine", frequent cleaning can be just as harmful to health as smoking.

"People who have worked as cleaners or cleaned the house for 20 years have a similarly reduced lung function as smokers who consumed 20 cigarettes a day," study lead author Øistein Svanes from the Department of Clinical Science at the University of Bergen said in one Message.

In order to arrive at their results, the researchers analyzed data from 6,235 participants in a Europe-wide survey on respiratory health (European Community Respiratory Health Survey, short: ECRHS).

The subjects, whose average age was 34 years at baseline, were followed for more than 20 years.

Higher risk of asthma

"While the short-term effects of cleansing chemicals on asthma are becoming increasingly well documented, we lack knowledge of the long-term effects," said Cecile Svanes, MD, PhD, a professor at the University's Center for International Health, according to a report by specialist magazine "EurekAlert!" .

"We feared that such chemicals, by causing day-to-day damage to the respiratory tract, could accelerate the decline in lung function that occurs with age," says the researcher.

Indeed, the authors found that lung function deteriorated enormously in women who worked as cleaners. Their lung values ​​are just as bad as those of people who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day for around 20 years.

The scientists also found that cleaners are 40 percent more likely to develop asthma than others.

Sprayed chemicals are particularly dangerous

According to Øistein Svanes, this degree of pulmonary dysfunction is surprising at first, but: "If you imagine inhaling small particles from cleaning agents that are designed to clean the floor and not the lungs, it may not be that surprising."

Above all agents that are sprayed can be dangerous: “The small particles from the sprays can remain in the air for hours after cleaning. The small particles can get deep into the lungs and cause infections and accelerate the aging of the lungs, ”said Svanes.

In men, the researchers found no difference between hobbyists, professional cleaners, and cleaning mufflers.

However, the study authors pointed out that there were only a few cleaning men among the subjects, which is why the informative value was only low.

"The key message of this study is that chemical cleaning agents are very likely to cause major lung damage in the long term," Svanes said.

“I would recommend a bucket of soap and water when cleaning. You don't need a lot of chemicals to clean. Microfiber cloths can be just as effective, ”said the expert. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: What your lungs look like after just 20 cigarettes (August 2020).