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Chemical Cleaning Product Use Linked To Lung Function Decline Among Women: Study

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Cleaning sprays contain chemicals, which are not particularly friendly to the lungs. A new study finds that women who use such products might as well have smoked with the kind of lung function decline they get from it. 
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New research finds that women who use cleaning sprays when cleaning, whether at home or for work, experience greater decline in lung function compared to those who do not clean. In fact, their lung function decline runs similar to that of smokers.

Asthma Risk With Chemical Cleaning Sprays

Many people often use spray cleaning chemicals when cleaning whether because it is their job or simply for their own homes. Sadly, evidence has surfaced in recent years of the link between asthma risks among professional and home cleaners and the use of such chemical cleaning tools.

In order to further understand the long-term respiratory effects of using such chemicals, researchers conducted a study wherein they analyzed the data of the 6,235 participants of the European Community Respiratory Health Survey who were followed for over 20 years since they signed up. They were categorized as “cleaning,” “not cleaning,” and “occupational cleaning.”

Of the participants, 53 percent were women, while 44 percent were non-smokers. The smokers among the participants were found to have smoked 7 pack-years at baseline. Pack-year is calculated by multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked a day by the number of years they smoked, wherein a pack-year is defined by one pack of cigarettes (20 cigarettes) per day for a year. It is a numerical value of lifetime tobacco exposure.

Cleaners And Non-Cleaners

Results of the study show evidence of lung function decline among the women who cleaned both professionally and at home, but more so among the professional cleaners. In fact, the decline in lung function capacity among cleaners was found to be comparable to smoking almost 20 pack-years. What’s more, they also found higher asthma prevalence among the women who cleaned professionally and at home than the women who did not clean.

“When you think of inhaling small particles from cleaning agents that are meant for cleaning the floor and not your lungs, maybe it is not so surprising after all,” said lead study author Øistein Svanes. The team surmises that perhaps the decline comes as a result of the irritation caused by cleaning chemicals on the mucous membranes that line the airways.

Interestingly, researchers did not have the same findings among men, whether they cleaned at home or cleaned professionally. However, the number of male cleaners was fairly small, so researchers believe it’s possible that they were unable to truly see the decline in lung function among male cleaners.

Because of their findings, researchers see the need to focus on preventing the harmful effects of exposure to chemical cleaning products.

The study is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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