This is what was shown by a study carried out by the University of Bergen, Norway, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The team of experts came to this conclusion by analyzing data from 6,235 participants in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. The volunteers, whose average age was 34 when they enrolled in the survey, were followed for more than 20 years.
Dr. Cecile Svanes, a professor at the Center for International Health at Scandinavian University, asked an important question. The negative health effects of cleaning chemicals have been demonstrated and documented for their impact in the short term. But in the long term, how dangerous are they?
"We are concerned that the sprays used for cleaning may cause a little damage day after day, year after year, accelerating the decline in lung function that occurs naturally with age."
To answer this question, the team of experts calculated that the amount of air that a person can forcibly exhale in one second is reduced faster in housewives and cleaners (by the corresponding order of 3.6 ml/year and 3.9 ml/year).
In contrast, the amount of air a person can forcibly exhale in total is reduced by 4.3 ml/year and 7.1 ml/year faster.
According to what has been observed, it would be mainly women who would suffer the damage: in particular, these were recorded in greater quantities in those who for work perform daily cleaning. "As if they had smoked 20 cigarettes a day over a long period of time from ten to twenty years": this is the comparison that the scholars have made to give a measure of the extent of the consequences.
In the study, they hypothesize that the decline in lung function is attributable to irritation of the mucous membranes lining the airways caused by most of the chemicals in cleaning products, which over time cause persistent changes in the airways and their harmful 'remodeling'.
"These results do not surprise us, after all - explained Øistein Svanes - think that you are inhaling particles that are designed to clean the floors and not your lungs." "Often then," he added, "these chemical components are useless. Microfiber cloths and water suffice and are much more adequate for the purpose we want to achieve."
Another U.S. study analyzed 1,538 scientific articles measuring 172 chemicals from five different classes, including flame retardants (RFRs), phthalates, perfluoro alkyl substances (PFAS) and synthetic fragrances. By analyzing the dust deposited in our homes, scientists have found chemicals from all of the above classes, which are all part of high-risk categories.
How can we protect the air we breathe in our homes from pollution caused by all these chemicals?