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Cleaning Products As Damaging To Women's Lungs As 20-A-Day Cigarette Habit

A new study shows the impact of cleaning products on women's lungs is incredibly damaging. In fact, regular exposure to cleaning products was shown to damage lungs as much as a 20-cigarette a day smoking habit. We've long been aware of the short-term impact of cleaning products on lung health, but this study highlights the severe long-term damage they can do, as well.

The study was published in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Scientists at Norway’s University of Bergen tracked 6,000 people who used cleaning products over a period of two decades. The average age of the subjects in the study was 34 at the time of enrollment.

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Researchers found that in women who used the products regularly, such as those who work as cleaners, lung function decline was equivalent to smoking a pack of day over the same period of time. The small amount of damage done on a daily basis, accumulated day after day and year after year, is also enough accelerate lung function decline that normally occurs with age.

Researchers measured lung function in study participants by testing the amount of air they could forcibly expel. Those results were compared to a questionnaire in which participants gave answers regarding their use of cleaning products. The data showed that women who used the products regularly had markedly decreased lung function. Researchers also found increased rates of asthma among the same women.

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Men also participated in the study, although the sample size was much lower. Still, the lung damage was more common in women than men in the study. Experts say that inhaling small particles from the cleaning products damage the mucous membranes that line the airways. Over time, repeated exposure to those particles results in changes to lung function and health.

Experts urge people who use cleaning products regularly to take precautions. Wearing a breathing mask can help, as can only using the products in a well-ventilated area. If you can, avoid caustic cleaning products altogether, and look for natural products that don't contain the chemicals found in traditional cleaning products.

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