Common cleaner could kill you

You may think that cleaning your bathroom with this common household cleaner is good for your health and hygiene, but it could be causing fatal lung disease.

A 30-year study by Harvard University and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) revealed that using bleach just once a week led to a 32 per cent increased chance of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The research investigated the incidence of COPD in more than 55,000 nurses in the US. The disease is linked to lung conditions such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Although disinfectants had previously been linked to respiratory problems, this study is likely the first to identify a link between COPD and quaternary ammonium compounds (quats).

“The potential adverse effects of exposure to disinfectants on COPD have received much less attention, although two recent studies in European populations showed that working as a cleaner was associated with a higher risk of COPD,” said Inserm researcher Orianne Dumas.

“To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to report a link between disinfectants and COPD among healthcare workers, and to investigate specific chemicals that may underlie this association.

“Some of these disinfectants, such as bleach and quats, are frequently used in ordinary households, and the [full] impact of domestic use of disinfectants on COPD development is unknown,” said Ms Dumas.

“Earlier studies have found a link between asthma and exposure to cleaning products and disinfectants at home, such as bleach and sprays, so it is important to investigate this further.”

The findings highlight the need for health guidelines for cleaning products and disinfectants.

Do you ever notice difficulty breathing after using bleach as a cleaning product? What alternative cleaning products do you use?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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