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Cleaning can be just as harmful as smoking


For the first time, a decade-long study has showed a strong association between household cleaner use and poor respiratory function.

As we have already reported, there may be a link between cleaning and childhood obesity, and household chemicals can affect fertility. A recent US study has revealed that, in addition to car use, one of the most significant causes of air pollution is the release of chemicals within the household.

We have a growing number of studies on the health risks of using household chemicals. A 20-year-long study carried out by scientists at the University of Bergen (Norway), has found that using detergents can be just as harmful as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

The study involved 6.230 participants from 22 different locations around the world. Participants were asked how often they used certain household detergents and then their respiratory function was tested.

The study has highlighted that the respiratory function of women who clean regularly at home or at their job, is weaker than their non-cleaning counterparts. This trend was not observed in the case of men. The authors did not explain the gender gap revealed. It is important to note though that fewer men participated in the study than women and among the participants we find only a small proportion of men whose job is (linked to) cleaning.

The European Community Respiratory Health Survey aims to find out more about the long-term effects of detergent use.

Based on the results, the authors suggest that exposure to detergents may be detrimental to women’s health in the long run. In fact,

the effects of 10 to 20 years of cleaning can be just as detrimental as if we smoked one pack of cigarettes a day during the same period of time.

It has become ever more obvious that there is a link between detergent use, asthma and other respiratory problems. Still, the above-mentioned study is the first one to examine the effects of long-term detergent use.

Green&Safe LIFE-styles is supported by the European Union LIFE program and co-funded by the Hungrian Ministry of Agriculture. Project ID: ENV GIE HU000622 Green & Safe LIFE-styles.

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