Health Care

Using household cleaning products may cause COPD

Using household cleaning products may cause COPD”

Using disinfectant cleaning products regularly such as bleach increases developing of fatal lung disease-risk, a study suggested.

"We found that people who use disinfectants to clean surfaces on a regular basis - at least once a week - had a 22 per cent increased risk of developing COPD", said Orianne Dumas from the National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in France.

COPD describes a group of lung conditions such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis that make it hard to move air in and out of the lungs because the airways have been narrowed. It includes emphysema, where there is permanent damage to the air sacs, or chronic bronchitis, in which the airways suffer long-term inflammation.

Nearly 30,000 people die from COPD each year.

The Guardian reported that while disinfectant use was previously associated with the increased risk of respiratory problems like asthma, the new study is believed to be the first that links COPD to specific cleaning chemicals known as quaternary ammonium compounds (quats).

They looked at those nurses who were still in a nursing job and with no history of COPD in 2009, and then followed them for approximately eight years until May 2017.

All of these 'were associated with an increased risk of COPD of between 24 to 32 per cent'.

While the everyday use of bleach now has no specific health guidelines, the study's researchers are hoping that this will change.

Dr Dumas will present the findings at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Milan on Monday, where she will highlight that further research is needed to clarify the impact of disinfectant use in the home.

"In our study population, 37% of nurses used disinfectants to clean surfaces on a weekly basis and 19% used disinfectants to clean medical instruments on a weekly basis", Dr Dumas said.

The nurses' exposure to disinfectants was evaluated via a questionnaire and adjusted the results for factors that might affect the outcome, such as smoking, age, body mass index and ethnicity.

Dr Dumas warned that some of the disinfectants used by nurses are also found in ordinary households with the impact largely unknown. It is important to examine the condition because there is a strong connection between asthma and exposure to cleaning products and disinfectants at home, such as bleach and sprays, the research found.

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