The Doctors discuss a recent study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine that connects the chemicals in household cleaning products with a dramatic decline in your health.
The study from the University of Bergen in Norway followed the health of 6,000 people for over 20 years. They found that people who cleaned their home one time per week could have lung function decline. The study even suggested that the effective cleaning could be equivalent to 10 – 20 years of smoking.
Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra explains that inhaling these chemicals is incredibly irritating to mucosa and can be very toxic. Plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon points out that so many of the cleaning products today are in aerosol form. ER physician Dr. Travis Stork adds that you don’t need to be a scientist to know that if you spray something and it irritates your lungs, you’re affected by it!
The Doctors talk about how we are over-cleaning in general. Dr. Batra says that as we keep cleaning and disinfecting there is a rise of allergic diseases because we’re not exposing our bodies to the normal flora and bacteria that we should. Dr. Travis says to save the harsher, antibacterial cleaners for when you really need them, like when someone is sick in your household.
The Doctors advise making sure the area you’re cleaning is well ventilated and they also say you should pay attention to the products you use. Dr. Travis says to buy more natural cleaning products; if you can understand and know what the ingredients are, and there aren’t bizarre chemicals you haven’t heard of, that’s probably a good sign.
The EPA also has safer choice symbols that are on many cleaning products. Use the EPA as a resource; here is a list of chemicals the EPA considers safe, and those it does not.
Dr. Batra shares that she tries to avoid sprays and prefers liquid cleaners instead. Dr. Ordon says if you do use a spray, spray it into a cloth or paper towel first.