This Unavoidable Task Is Just as Harmful to Your Lungs as Smoking Cigarettes

The more we learn about our health, diseases, and proper treatments, the longer our collective life span may be — but at the same time, we know so much that it almost seems like our everyday habits are killing us. And results of a recent study indicate that may be true.

Smoking cigarettes is one of the worst things you can do for your health, so stating that something is equally as unhealthy is a big claim. However, there is an unavoidable weekly task that may be damaging your lungs — and luckily, there are some things you can do about it.

Chemicals: A work in progress

Toxic Sign

Chemicals are everywhere. | iStock.com/Antoine2K

From the food we eat to the places we work, shop, and relax, we’re all exposed to different chemicals every day … and research is still being done on how harmful some of them actually are. While exposure is unavoidable, the best thing we can do is to minimize our time breathing in or ingesting manmade chemicals. That’s why the results of this study are so disturbing — this task is something we all have to do.

Next: Is your clean home killing you?

Is cleaning dangerous? This study says yes

Man cleaning tile wall

Cleaning may not always be a good thing. | Di_photo/iStock/Getty Images

Recently, scientists at Norway’s University of Bergen tracked 6,000 people who used cleaning products regularly over two decades. The results, which were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found that lung function decline in those who regularly used the products, such as those who worked as cleaners, was equivalent to those who smoked 20 cigarettes a day. This issue seemed to affect women worse than men, but more women than men participated in the study.

The results come after a study by French scientists in September 2017 that found nurses who used disinfectants to clean surfaces at least once a week had up to a 32% increased risk of developing lung disease.

Next: There are a lot of factors in the study to consider.

Short-term versus long-term effects of cleaning chemicals

cleaning the floor with a old mop, mopping

The effects are staggering. | Voyagerix/iStock/Getty Images

This study is especially disturbing because it shows the effects of long-term use of cleaning chemicals. The short-term effects may not be so obvious, but it’s clear that long-term regular use results in lung damage. There is one small piece of good news:  Those affected the worst were either professional cleaners or people who were exposed a lot more frequently that most of the public. Still, the results are alarming to those who clean regularly and use products with chemicals.

Next: Don’t vow to go on a cleaning strike just yet.

Sorry, you still have to clean

Gas mask with yellow chemical protection suit

But, you may want to take steps to protect yourself. | Dmyto/iStock/Getty Images

If your solution to hearing this news is to cut back on cleaning for your health, find a new one: Cleaning your home still has some major health benefits. You’ll lower your stress levels, rid your rooms of illness-causing microbes, and keep your allergies at bay, not to mention feel better. So don’t stop cleaning — just find ways to minimize lung damage.

Next: Pay attention to the products you’re using.

Choose nontoxic options

Cleaning supplies

Be mindful of the products you purchase. | Jevtic/iStock/Getty Images

Some household products, like air fresheners, dryer sheets, and cleaning sprays, are known carcinogens. Your best bet is to check the labels, arm yourself with knowledge, and choose nontoxic products. Get rid of the chemical-filled air fresheners entirely — there are natural ways to make your home smell good.

Next: Reducing your exposure to cleaning chemicals will also help.

Clear the air

Houseplants, books, pile of journals and watering can

Plants can work wonders. | InaTs/iStock/Getty Images

Since cleaning your home is necessary, one way to prevent chemicals from damaging your lungs is to keep the air in your home clean and non-toxic. You can do this by keeping houseplants in your rooms, taking your shoes off when you come home, and opting for nontoxic products.

Next: Give DIY a try

Make your own cleaning products

Women hand holding spray bottle

This way, you know what you’re breathing in. | solar22/iStock/Getty Images

One way to ensure you know exactly what’s in your cleaning products is to make them yourself. White vinegar, baking soda, and rubbing alcohol are all great cleaners — and not only will you save your lungs, you’ll save money in the process. This way when bleach or other chemicals become necessary for heavy duty cleaning, you’ll reduce your exposure by having your own homemade products for everyday use.

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