Cleaning Agent as a Health Hazard?

  • Author: Marek Czykanski
  • Published: 07 April 2018
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
  • Source / Publisher: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
thumbnail image: Cleaning Agent as a Health Hazard?

Øistein Svanes, University of Bergen, Norway, and colleagues have investigated long-term consequences of cleaning agents on respiratory health. They interviewed 6,230 people three times over a 20-year period, for example, on respiratory and allergic complaints, their job, whether they are doing sports, how they live, whether pets live in the household, or whether they smoke. In addition, the lung function of the subjects was examined. 85 % of the participating women said they would clean at least once a week at home, some worked as professional cleaners. Of the men, 46 % were regularly exposed to cleaning products.

For women who were cleaning at home or working as professional cleaners, lung function decreased significantly compared with those not engaged in cleaning. Both cleansing sprays and other cleansers seem to have a damaging effect that appeared after 10–20 years. According to the researchers, the effect on lung function was similar to that of smokers who smoke 20 cigarettes a day for 10–20 years.

For men, the chemical ingredients from detergents did not seem to affect pulmonary function. The team believes that men's lungs may be more resilient than women's respiratory systems. A phenomenon that has already been observed in connection with tobacco smoke or wood dust in the air. However, because the men in the sample cleaned less frequently, the basis of the evaluation was also thinner for them. An investigation with more male could possibly lead to different results.

Overall, the researchers conclude that certain cleaning products have a negative impact on the long-term health of the respiratory tract. They recommend being more aware of the possible consequences and to take precautions. Examples include: Provide adequate ventilation, wear a face mask, and, instead of using a chemical cleaner, use water or neutral cleaning agents where possible.


  • Cleaning at Home and at Work in Relation to Lung Function Decline and Airway Obstruction,
    Øistein Svanes, Randi J. Bertelsen, Stein H. L. Lygre, Anne E. Carsin, Josep M. Antó , Bertil Forsberg, José M. García-García, José A Gullón, Joachim Heinrich, Mathias Holm, Manolis Kogevinas, Isabel Urrutia, Bénédicte Leynaert, Jesús M Moratalla, Nicole Le Moual, Theodore Lytras, Dan Norbäck, Dennis Nowak , Mario Olivieri, Isabelle Pin, Nicole Probst-Hensch, Vivi Schlünssen, Torben Sigsgaard, Trude D. Skorge, Simona Villani, Debbie Jarvis, Jan P. Zock, Cecilie Svanes,
    Am. J. Resp. Critical Care Med. 2018.
    https://doi.org/10.1164/rccm.201706-1311OC

     

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