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Household cleaning products as bad for the lungs as smoking 20 cigarettes a day

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Breathing in the chemicals every day can cause “substantial damage” to the lungs, leading to shortness of breath and asthma, say researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway.

Women and men who use the products every day – usually as professional cleaners – have seriously impaired lung capacity that would be seen in someone who was smoking 20 cigarettes a day for 20 years.

The researchers monitored the lung health of 6,235 people, some of whom were professional cleaners who used cleaning sprays and products every day in offices and homes, for 20 years.

One of the researchers, Oistein Svanes, said it was not surprising to see such a high level of lung damage “when you think of inhaling small particles from cleaning agents that are meant for cleaning the floor.”

Many of the cleaning products aren’t even necessary, and could easily be replaced by non-toxic alternatives, such as micro-fibre cloths and even plain water, he added.

(Source: Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine annual, 2018)

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