In Brief

Cleaning is as bad for women as smoking 20 cigarettes a day

Harmful sprays can cause long-term lung damage and raise asthma risk by 40% - but men appear to be immune

cleaner.jpg

Cleaning the house with chemicals is as damaging for women as smoking a packet of cigarettes every day, according to a new study, but men who clean their houses suffer no side effects.

Researchers at the University of Bergen studied more than 6,000 people who were either professional cleaners or had been regularly using cleaning sprays for 20 years.

The effect on female lungs was found to be equivalent to the damage done to women who smoked 20 cigarettes a day over the same period, The Daily Telegraph reports, and there was an additional 40% risk of developing asthma. Women, rather than men, were found to be at risk. Researchers failed to find any effect on the lungs of men who cleaned either professionally or at home, the Daily Mail says.

Potential irritants include bleach and ammonia, according to the researchers, who said that chemicals used for cleaning were unnecessary for many household jobs. These could be performed equally well with microfibre cloths and water, they argued.

Experts in the UK say people should keep their homes well ventilated and use liquid cleaners instead of sprays, the BBC adds.

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