A recent study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine claims that regularly using house cleaning products could be as bad for your health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Although it’s difficult to imagine cleaning could be just as detrimental to one’s health as smoking, the research suggests that the chemicals in cleaning products that get inhaled are actually just as bad.
According to an article by Forbes, researchers at the University of Bergen and Haukeland University Hospital in Norway calculated what happened to two common measures of lung function over time among 6,235 people who were part of the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. The first measure is the forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), or the amount of air you can expel from your lungs in one second. The second measure is the forced vital capacity (FVC), which is the total amount of air you can blow out of your lungs after you’ve taken the deepest breath possible.
These measurements were used to determine the lung health and vitality of those participating in this study.
While both of these measures tend to peak between 20 to 25 years of age and then afterward decrease gradually with age, the study found that the FEV1 and the FVC decreased faster (3.6 and 4.3 ml per year faster) for women who regularly cleaned their own homes than those who did not. The declines were even faster (3.9 and 7.1 ml/year faster) among women who worked as cleaners compared to those who did not work as cleaners and did not regularly clean their own homes. Also, asthma was more common (12.3%) among women who cleaned their homes (12.3 percent) or worked as cleaners (13.7%) than those who did neither (9.6%). These declines in lung function were comparable to those seen in people with a pack-a-day cigarette smoking habit. -Forbes
This does raise concerns about the chemicals we all use to clean our home and the effect on our lung health. Natural or homemade cleaners are most likely the safest way to go. Consider making your own laundry detergent and cleaning supplies in the comfort of your own home. This way, you control exactly what you’re putting into the air that your family breathes in.