cleaning house
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A dirty house can make you fall sick, but do you know that even cleaning your house can be unhealthy for you? Well, a recent research shows that the household cleaning products can be as harmful to a woman's lungs as smoking 20 cigarettes a day. No such effect was found on men's lungs.

Researchers at the University of Bergen assessed the lungs of 6,235 women and men at 22 centers. They observed and checked them again and again, over the course of twenty years.

The results were based on the data from 6,235 participants in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. The average age of the study participants was 34 when they enrolled and were followed for more than 20 years.

The study participants were asked several questions -- whether they themselves cleaned their house, or worked as professional cleaners, how often they use liquid cleaning products and sprays.

Co-author Oistein Svanes said that the level of impact of cleaning products on the lungs was surprising at first.

But he added: "However, when you think of inhaling small particles from cleaning agents that are meant for cleaning the floor and not your lungs, maybe it is not so surprising after all."

The results showed that women who cleaned their house as little as once a week or as professional cleaners, they had an 'accelerated' decline in lung capacity.

The authors who led the research wrote: "Women cleaning at home or working as occupational cleaners had accelerated the decline in lung function, suggesting that exposures related to cleaning activities may constitute a risk to long-term respiratory health."

The drops in lung function can be compared to smoking a pack of 20 cigarettes for between 10-20 years. However, they found no such effect on the lungs of men who did the cleaning as part of their domestic chores or professionally.

Explaining the effects, Dr. Cecile Svanes of the University of Bergen, who carried out the study said: "While the short-term effects of cleaning chemicals on asthma are becoming increasingly well documented, we lack knowledge of the long-term impact."

Dr. Svanes added: "We feared that such chemicals, by steadily causing a little damage to the airways day after day, year after year, might accelerate the rate of lung function decline that occurs with age."

The study was published in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.