Shock report highlights risk for cleaners as cleaning sprays shown to be ‘as bad for lungs as smoking’

A UiB-study released by the University of Bergen has revealed that cleaners who have regularly used cleaning sprays over 20 years were found to have reduced lung function equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day over the same period.

”People who have worked as cleaners or done household cleaning for 20 years have reduced lung function  equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day, for the same period of time.” 

Svanes says the findings are less surprising than many expect, as cleaning products contain many small particles which are inhaled into the lungs.

The study also found that cleaners were 40 per cent higher risk of developing asthma than others.

The research includes 6 000 participants, based on the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS), and the study is published by the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, and is part of the Horizon 2020 project Aging Lungs in European Cohorts (ALEC).

Professor Cecilie Svanes at the Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, UiB, supervisor of the study, says cleaners should avoid using cleaning sprays and just use an old-fashioned  bucket of soap and water to clean.  She advises:

”The small particles from sprays can remain in the air for hours after cleaning. The small particles can travel deep into the lungs and cause infections, and ageing of the lungs.  I would recommend using a bucket of water and soap when cleaning. You will not need a lot of chemicals after all, when cleaning. Microfibre cloths may be just as effective!”