This study was conducted on women who clean as a living, and found products such as bleach, glass cleaner, detergents and air fresheners exacerbated asthma-related symptoms for these women. The study also showed that their lung function was reduced and that this effects lasted until the morning after exposure, and in some cases got worse over time.
"These results support the importance of developing workplace health and safety practices designed to limit exposures to irritant chemicals in cleaning products," the study team wrote.
A wide variety of cleaning products are used by workers in settings like offices, factories and hospitals, but a number of studies in recent years have reported associations between exposure to cleaning products and asthma.
The products in this study included 14 different generic cleaning agents including bleach, detergents, degreasers, carpet cleaners and waxes and polishes. On average, the women studied used just over two different types of cleaning products each day, and on about three out of every four working days the women were exposed to at least one strong irritant, such as ammonia, bleach or hydrochloric acid.
During this period, 17 women reported having at least one upper respiratory tract symptom, such as sneezing, scratchy throat and runny nose. Eighteen women also reported at least one lower respiratory tract symptom, such as coughing, wheezing or chest pain. There was a stronger association between exposure to cleaning products and developing these symptoms among women
with a history of asthma, as compared to the rest of the group.
Other recent studies have linked the chlorine in swimming pools and in bleach used for cleaning homes and schools to asthma and respiratory infections among swimmers and school children, respectively.
Also keep in mind that these studies only look at acute symptoms. It's difficult to determine the long-term effects of exposure, like increased risk of dementia or cognitive disorders, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer...and this is what the chemical industry hides behind, the lack of evidence for long-term serious health conditions. However, I hope studies like these, even with their "minor" acute effects will be enough for society to wean ourselves off these toxic chemicals.
The risk from cleaning products is not only seen among professional cleaners, using these products can be dangerous in the home as well. On top of that, we know that these chemicals have incredibly destructive effects on the ecosystem and the environment in general.
Natural cleaning alternatives are not only widely available now, but many can be made with simple ingredients, such as using white vinegar as a general purpose cleaner. Cheap, easy, and much healthier for you, your family, and the only home we have--Earth.
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Source: Cleaning products and short-term respiratory effects among female cleaners with asthma
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