Like many Poles, I grew up when we rested on our laurels in a house full of household cleaning products. Many mums have regularly scrubbed our kitchen countertops with household bleach. The sinks had to be shiny and the floors were spotless. They didn’t do this to hurt us; they thought it would protect us. To this day, many people have the same standard of “killing all germs” in their homes. After all, this, they think, protects their families best.
In fact, there are many reasons to forgo home-bought cleaning products. The latest example? Regular, long-term exposure to aerosol cleaners increases a woman’s risk of lung damage, similar to smoking 20 cigarettes a day.
Household Cleaning Products:
The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine ,
looked at home cleaning products, including sprays and other cleaners. While the study did not consider the effects of the products on lung cancer risk, the goal was to find out how cleaning agents damage the lungs and impair their function.
In the first study of its kind on home cleaning products, Norwegian researchers made some important conclusions.
6,000 women over 20 years took part in the study.
The long-term effects of cleaning agents on respiratory health, including deterioration of lung function and airway obstruction, have been studied.
Scientists looked at both those who clean the house and those who did the professional cleaning.
The study measured forced expiratory volume in one second, which is how much air could be expelled from the lungs in one second.
They also looked at forced vital capacity. That’s all the air you can blow out of your lungs after taking a big, deep breath.
Although both of these breathing factors naturally decline with age, starting in the mid- 1920s, studies have shown that cleaning chemicals are used regularly, accelerating the decline in lung function.
Cleaning just once a week from your home for over 20 years has caused significant lung damage.
Professional cleaners in the workplace experience lung damage on a par with smoking 20 cigarettes a day for 10 to 20 years.
Scientists hypothesize that irritating ingredients in cleaning products cause damage through a variety of pathways, including:
– Inducing dysfunction of the immune system
– Inflammation in the mucous membranes Household cleaning products are a bomb: exposure equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day
– Damage to the airways at the cellular, structural and tissue levels
The review of scientific research carried out by the Working Party on the Environment makes several recommendations:
Save money and lungs by simply using less cleaning agents. Manufacturers of cleaner stores from whom they buy their products don’t need to disclose all ingredients, so there’s no way you can really know what’s in a particular mixture… and how it will affect your health in the short and long term.
Spray cleaners should be avoided if possible. If you must use them, spray the cloth first to reduce the number of tiny droplets you inhale.
Use microfiber cloths and water to wipe the dust off.
The dark side of home cleaning products:
There are dozens of other peer-reviewed, published studies that describe how harmful cleaning products affect our body. The worst thing is that manufacturers of cleaning products do not have to disclose all ingredients in their products. And we just don’t know what the health effects are of the way all these questionable ingredients mix together. Here’s what we know.
Immune system disorders:
One animal study published in Science in 2012 found harm that can result from living in an overly sterile environment. The researchers observed two groups of mice: the first group was bred in “germ-resistant” immune systems that lacked gut bacteria; the second group was given normal, healthy exposure to good and bad bacteria. When tested, the germ-free mice had significantly higher levels of inflammation in the colon and lung regions compared to mice with normal germ exposure (which had healthy immune responses).
The germ-free mice also showed symptoms similar to ulcerative colitis and asthma. The good news is that when germ-free mice were exposed to normal amounts of bacteria two weeks after birth, their immune system response leveled off and the animals recovered from their inflammation.
Air pollution and the lungs:
Did you know that cleaning your home with household cleaners available in most stores can actually create unsafe conditions in your home? A 2006 study published in the journal Indoor Air found that home cleaning products often contain high levels of volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs .
The study authors noted that these cleaners often contain glycol ethers, which are regulated toxic air pollutants. Terpenes are other problem chemicals lurking in cleaners. They can easily react with formaldehyde and ultrafine particles in the air to form ozone that destroys the lungs.
Limonene and linalool are two synthetic terpene substances for perfumes that are often used in citrus-scented products.
A Chinese study of nearly 2,300 students from 21 different schools found that frequent use of household cleaners increased the likelihood of children developing rhinitis and rhinitis by 29 to 97 percent.
Researchers calculated the children’s total chemical weight by summing up the total time they were exposed to 14 different household cleaners. The symptoms of rhinitis worsened as the total chemical load increased.
Did you know that using home cleaning sprays is also associated with new cases of asthma? A 2010 review study published in the Current Opinion on Allergology and Clinical Immunology found strong evidence linking not only professional cleaners, but also housekeepers and healthcare professionals, to acute exacerbated asthma. The study author noted that the following products may be of particular importance for asthma symptoms:
– Spray cleaners
– Chlorine bleach
– Other disinfectants
What causes these lung problems?
Scientists believe it may be an allergic effect or irritating characteristics of the ingredients.
Add the dangers of synthetic fragrances often used in cleaning products, and you’ll easily notice how home cleaning products can lead to chest tightness, wheezing, and other respiratory ailments.
Unfortunately, dermatitis contact ingredients are common in cleaning products and laundry products. Preservatives like methylisothiazolinone are among the worst offenders. And be careful: this one is often found in cleaning and laundry products marketed as “natural”.
Poisonous Gases :
It’s not just about the cleaning products themselves, but how often we combine them, leading to potentially catastrophic health risks. Bleach. One of the greatest dangers? It is bad for our health when combined with other popular cleaning chemicals. One common mistake is to mix chlorine bleach with an ammonia-based cleaner. (Glass and floor cleaners often contain ammonia.)
Thus, chloramine gas is formed . In fact, only a few particles of this chemical mixture are warned that can trigger 24-hour symptoms, including:
– Irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract
– Crying eyes
– Runny nose
– Sore throat
– Chest compaction Household cleaning products are a bomb: exposure equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day
Mixing bleach with chlorine with an acid-based cleaner also produces chlorine gas, another irritant, but with more severe and long-lasting effects than chloramine. Therefore, it is suggested that you never mix store-bought cleaning products. Think about it. Even mixing white vinegar with bleach can create this dangerous gas, along with the acids found in drain openers and oven washers.
More Toxic Mixtures:
The American Lung Association warns that even natural fragrances like citrus can react and create unsafe indoor air quality conditions.
If ozone levels are high inside your home, cleaning ingredients, particularly natural and synthetic forms of citrus, may react to form formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen. Toxic microparticles are also formed that can enter the lungs.
How to find and create safer cleaning products:
Since our chemical regulations are out of date and do not protect us properly against toxic cleaners, how can we find safer solutions? Here are the top recommendations: Home cleaning products are a bomb: exposure equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day
Most people don’t need industrial disinfectants to clean their homes. Use ingredients such as white vinegar, baking soda, and rubber soap for cleaning. When you need a stronger cleanser, use germ-killing essential oils, including golden oil. (Make sure they are safe for children and pets to use.)
When in doubt, choose unscented products.
If you’re using essential oils, avoid using on days with high ozone levels. And don’t use home air filters that generate ozone.
Avoid antibacterial soap, including the active ingredient triclosan and the ingredients used to replace triclosan .
Do not always trust “green” or “natural” cleaners. A 2015 study found that many of them contained carcinogens, toxic fragrances and volatile organic compounds, similar to regular store-bought cleaners.