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Cleaning products linked to decreased lung function

Cleaning products linked to decreased lung function

Female cleaners see an accelerated decline in lung function as a direct result of their jobs, according to new research released as part of the Healthy Lungs for Life campaign.

The new research was presented at theEuropean Respiratory Society’s International Congress in London from 3-7 September, which brings together the brightest minds in lung health to discuss possible breakthroughs.

The study looked at a sample of over 5,000 individuals from The European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) over a 20-year period and shows that occupational cleaners had a 17% greater decline in lung function compared to the average.

Even those engaged in cleaning at home were at increased risk – experiencing a 14% greater decrease in lung function over 20 years.  Cleaning can expose people to chemical agents like ammonia, which irritate the airways, and other substances that can cause allergic airway disease.

While previous studies have shown an increased risk of COPD among occupational cleaners and, in fact, that cleaners are among the occupations with the highest risk of COPD, this is the first study looking at the long-term consequences of exposure to cleaning agents.

With lower lung function leaving people at greater risk of respiratory health issues, the Healthy Lungs for Life campaign is encouraging anyone who experiences any lung symptoms at home or in the workplace to talk to their GP and get their lungs tested.

Oistein Svanes, consultant, PhD-student at the University of Bergen, who authored the study, said: “We need to start being much more aware of the chemicals we’re releasing into the air we breathe when we use things like cleaning spray.”

Commenting on the study, Professor Jørgen Vestbo, President of ERS and Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Manchester, said:

“Cleaning products can put people’s health at risk. So people should be aware of the risks and take steps to mitigate against them – if people have genuine concerns they should ensure that they discuss any symptoms and the possible link with their workplace with their doctor”.