A new study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, investigated home cleaning products and sprays, and found that using cleaning products can be as harmful as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

Conducted by scientists at the University of Bergen in Norway,  The European Community Respiratory Health Survey looked at lung function of more than  6,200 participants in 22 locations around the world. Participants answered questions about how often they used cleaning products and had their lung function measured.

The study found that women responsible for cleaning at home or professionally suffered a more rapid decline than women who were not responsible for cleaning.  Those who cleaned as little as once a week at home over 20 years showed significant lung damage. People cleaning professionally experienced lung damage on par with smoking 20 cigarettes daily for 10 to 20 years. Being aware of what’s really in different cleaning products can make for a safe and efficient spring cleaning.

Drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acidic toilet bowl cleaners can cause slight skin burns, or if ingested burns in the throat or mouth. Other products that can have potentially give off harmful health side effects include aerosol spray products, air fresheners, dish detergent, and floor polish. You should always read the labels on the back of cleaning products before using.

NEVER mix bleach or any bleach-containing product with any cleaning ammonia (glass and floor cleaners often contain ammonia). This creates chloramine gas. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia warns that just a few whiffs of this chemical mixture can create symptoms including eye, nose, throat and airway irritation, teary eyes, sore throat, runny nose, coughing and chest congestion. The gas combination created can lead to chronic breathing problems, or sometimes even death.

To make matter even more difficult, store-bought cleaner manufacturers aren’t required to disclose all ingredients, so there’s no way of really knowing what’s in a specific mixture, and how it’ll affect your health in the short-term and long-term.

Our best bet is to be our own health advocates and make healthier choices for ourselves and our families.  Here's a few suggestions...

  • 1

    Decrease Number of Cleaning Products

    To be on the safe side, reduce the number of cleaning products you use and clean with good old soap an water.

     

  • 2

    Switch To Natural Products

    Use ingredients like white vinegar, baking soda and castille soap for cleaning purposes. When you do need a more potent cleaner, use germ-killing essential oils, including a thieves oil blend.

  • 3

    Watch Out for Antibacterial Soap

    Avoid antibacterial soap, including the active ingredient triclosan and ingredients used to replace triclosan.

  • 4

    Forget the Scent

    When in doubt, choose unscented products.  If you do use use essential oils, avoid use on high ozone days.

  • 5

    Don't Spray

    Avoid spray cleaners when possible. If you must use them, spray onto a cloth first to reduce the number of tiny droplets you breathe in.

  • 6

    Get Better Cleaning Cloths

    Use microfiber cloths or microfiber cloths and water to do your dusting.