Cleaning sprays damage lungs as much as regular smoking

The study did not find that the ratio of FEV1 to FVC declined more rapidly in women who cleaned than in those who did not.

WOMEN working as cleaners or using cleaning sprays or other products regularly at home are likely to experience a greater decline in their lung function, researchers have warned. However, they found no such effect on the lungs of men who did the cleaning as part of their domestic chores or professionally.

Researchers explain that their study was limited thanks to the small percentage of women who never cleaned, and the small group of men who worked as cleaners who they were able to analyse.

It's thought that this is down to the irritation of the mucous membranes of the airways caused by inhaling cleaning chemicals.

Well, dishcloth-dodgers have the ideal excuse as scientists have claimed that cleaning your home can be just as damaging to your lungs as smoking.

Carried out by researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway, the team analyzed data from 6,235 participants who were followed for more than 20 years. The women who cleaned at work declined faster still - 3.9 ml per year in FEV1, and 7.1 ml in FVC. Also, the number of participating men working in the cleaning business was small, and doctors think that their exposure to cleaning agents was likely different from that of women who worked as cleaning professionals.

The scientists advised avoiding the products, and instead using microfiber cloths and water. Previous research has found that male lungs are more resistant to damage from various irritants including tobacco smoke and wood dust.

In addition, the results also showed that women who cleaned were also more likely to have asthma, with 12.3 per cent of those who cleaned at home and 13.7 per cent of those who cleaned at work suffering from the condition, compared to 9.6 per cent of those who did not clean.

The cleaning products contain dozens of chemicals which can be inhaled. However, they added that it is possible that women are simply more vulnerable to the chemicals' effects.

"At Asthma UK we'd advise people with the condition who do a lot of cleaning to speak to their GP or nurse about what they can realistically do to reduce the risk of having an asthma attack".

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

  • Aubrey Nash