A 20-year longitudinal study conducted by scientists at the University of Bergen in Norway has found that using cleaning products can be as harmful as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.
The European Community Respiratory Health Survey aimed to find out more about the long-term effects of using cleaning products. The study looked at lung function in 6,230 participants in 22 locations around the world. Participants answered questions about how often they used cleaning products and had their lung function measured.
The study found that women responsible for cleaning at home or professionally suffered a more rapid decline than women who were not responsible for cleaning. The same trend was not observed in men, however. The authors did not offer a reason for this gender difference, though there were fewer men than women in the study and a smaller percentage of those men engaged in “occupational cleaning.”
Based on the results, the authors suggested that exposure to cleaning materials can be detrimental to women’s health in the long term. In fact, the effects of 10-20 years of cleaning can be as damaging as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for the same amount of time.
There is increasing awareness of the connection between cleaning product use and asthma and other respiratory issues, but this is the first study to look at the impact of using cleaning products over a long period of time.