Cleaning Products and Lung Damage

You may already know that indoor air quality is typically much lower than the quality of air outdoors. Various pollutants contribute to poor indoor air quality: mold, bacteria, pet dander, chemicals, and even gases. Low air quality creates a pulmonary health risk. Keeping your home clean by vacuuming, dusting, washing linens, and changing air filters can help improve the air quality in your home. Surprisingly, housecleaning can also create a health risk. Cleaning products can have a negative effect on pulmonary health and cause lung damage.

How do cleaning products affect lung health?

Cleaning supplies can contain harmful chemicals and volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. VOCs, chemicals, and vapors that are produced during cleaning can cause acute or chronic respiratory problems and damage the lungs.

One study from the University of Bergen in Norway looked at 20 years worth of data and found that cleaning products can cause significant damage to a person’s lungs.

Chemicals and VOCs found in cleaning products can cause acute and chronic respiratory problems. Always read the labels before buying - and before using - cleaning products. Click To Tweet

It’s not always the cleaners with the scary warning labels that are dangerous. Products that claim to be natural, eco-friendly, or green aren’t necessarily harmless, and some fragrances can react to create indoor air pollutants. Polishes, bathroom cleaners, floor cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, and air fresheners can all cause lung damage.

Some cleaning products may contain ammonia or bleach. These chemicals come with risks on their own, but they are especially dangerous when combined. When ammonia and bleach mix they produce toxic chloramine vapors. The gases created by the combination of ammonia and bleach can be fatal.

You’re at an even greater risk if you already have lung disease or respiratory problems.

Preventing lung damage from cleaning products

  • Always read labels before buying cleaning products and also before using cleaning products. Look for cleaning products without added fragrances and without VOCs.
  • Try to avoid cleaning products that contain ammonia or bleach, clearly mark those that do, and never combine these cleaning products. Always keep cleaning products in their original containers.
  • Avoid using cleaning products in confined spaces, such as a bathroom.
  • Make sure that your home is well ventilated any time you use cleaning products; open windows and doors.
  • Consider wearing a respirator when using cleaning products.
  • Using alternatives to cleaning products, such as white vinegar, baking soda, soap, and warm water, may be enough to get your home clean, and they won’t cause lung damage.