Could cleaning be impacting your breathing?

Updated January 4, 2019

For many people, a clean house equals a healthy house. But could cleaning actually be impacting your health in a negative way?

A 2018 study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, showed that using chemical cleaning products could harm female workers’ lungs as much as smoking a pack of cigarettes every day for 10 to 20 years. Women who use sprays and other cleaning products at home as little as once a week may also harm their lungs, although the study did not quantify the impact by comparison with smoking.

Links to new-onset asthma and aggravated asthma, wheezing, respiratory infections and irritation from exposure to chemical cleaners are well documented in the scientific literature.  The study thought to be the first to assess occupational or domestic cleaning product exposure as it relates to the decline of lung function. Diminished lung function is a sign of lung disease or possible future development of the disease, which can be fatal.

Women face disproportionate exposures to the hazardous agents in cleaning products because – as this study and data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, among others, supports – they are responsible for the majority of cleaning chores at home and represent the majority of the domestic cleaning workforce. While it is unlikely that a single, brief exposure to any one chemical will cause a health problem, cumulative exposure to the many different chemicals contained in the wide variety of household products that people use routinely can be more problematic.

Follow these tips to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals:

Dana Sundblad
Dana Sundblad
Dana is a seasoned marketing and communications professional with over 20 years experience helping companies achieve awareness and financial goals in consumer, technology, and non-profit industries. Most recently she was Director of Communications at Castilleja School and began her career in brand marketing with Clorox. She received her MBA from Harvard University and BA from Wellesley College.
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