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Fitness & Health

18th Feb 2018

Cleaning your house can be ‘as bad for you as smoking’, study finds

Kyle Picknell

Put down the mop and get your feet up.

Scientists in Norway have found that women who have worked as a cleaner, or have regularly used cleaning sprays for at least 20 years, showed a decline in their lung function equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day over the same period.

The study took place at the University of Bergen in Norway, where researchers monitored the health of over 6,000 adults over a 20 year period, utilising data from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey.

They found that the amount of air women who cleaned could forcibly exhale decreased more over time than those who didn’t do any cleaning, likely meaning a decline in lung function.

Professor Oistein Staves, lead author of the study, said that “in the long run, cleaning chemicals very likely cause rather substantial damage to your lungs.”

“When you think of inhaling small particles from cleaning agents that are meant for cleaning the floor and not your lungs, maybe the news is not so surprising after all,” he explained.

The study, which was published in the American Journal for Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, also found that women were more affected than men and that inhaling the chemicals used in cleaning products led to a 43% increased risk of asthma over 20 years.

There was no difference found in the long-term lung function of the men who said they clean regularly and those that didn’t, meaning it is possible that women are simply more susceptible to the effects of the chemicals.

Experts are now suggesting that liquid cleaners, rather than sprays, should be preferred when cleaning, along with ensuring that your home remains well ventilated.