Household cleaning can be as bad as smoking for lung function

Cleaners who have regularly used cleaning sprays over 20 years were found to have reduced lung function equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day over the same period, a UiB-study shows.


Woman cleaning
GUILTY SPRAYS: Sprays may harm your lungs when cleaning, study shows.

”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. He is main author of the study.

Bad for lungs

He says his findings might not be surprising, when thinking about all the small particles that follow with cleaning products.

The study also shows that cleaners have 40 per cent higher risk of developing asthma than others.

The research includes 6 000 participants, based on the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS).

The study is published by the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, and is part of the Horizon 2020 project Aging Lungs in European Cohorts (ALEC).

- Use water bucket

Professor Cecilie Svanes at the Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, UiB, supervisor of the study, says the cleaning sprays are the main problem.

”The small particles from the sprays can remain in the air for hours after cleaning. The small particles can travel deep into the lungs and cause infections, and ageing of the lungs,” Svanes explains.

“I would recommend using a bucket of water and soap when cleaning. You will not need a lot of chemicals after all, when cleaning. Microfibre cloths may be just as effective,” Cecile Svanes points out.