A few years ago, a research published in The Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine showed that the long-term consequences of regular use of toxic chemicals has an impact on lung function decline in women - working as cleaners or regularly using cleaning products at home - comparable to smoking 20 cigarettes a day over 10 to 20 years. The research followed more than 6,000 people over a 20 year period and found women in particular suffered significant health problems after long-term use of these products.
Rationale Cleaning tasks may imply exposure to chemical agents with potential harmful effects to the respiratory system, and increased risk of asthma and respiratory symptoms among professional cleaners and in persons cleaning at home has been reported. Long-term consequences of cleaning agents on respiratory health are, however, not well described.
This study aims to investigate long-term effects of occupational cleaning and cleaning at home on lung function decline and airway obstruction. Methods The European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) investigated a multi-centre population based cohort at three time points over twenty years. 6230 participants with at least one lung function measurement from 22 study centres, who in ECRHS II responded to questionnaire modules concerning cleaning activities between ECRHS I and ECRHS II were included.
Women cleaning at home or working as occupational cleaners had accelerate decline in lung function, suggesting that exposures related to cleaning activities may constitute a risk to long-term respiratory health.