Obsessive cleaning may be slowly poisoning you with chemicals

For the obsessively clean, beware. Those cleaning chemicals you spray all over to get your house spic-and-span may be hurting your lungs. Dr. Clayton Cowl, a Mayo Clinic lung specialist, and toxicologist in the United States says cleaning chemicals are a risk, but one that can be managed.

“Well, I think we all know that there are a lot of different chemicals that we potentially are exposed to at home,” he says. According to research, people who are frequently exposed to cleaning chemicals over extended periods of time have shown decreased lung function.

Dr. Cowl says it’s something to keep in mind, but most people probably aren’t inhaling these chemicals often enough to really cause harm. “I think the message here is that (with) everything we have in our closet, we’re (not) immediately going to disintegrate from them,” he says.

But he says those who clean professionally or are exposed to cleaning chemicals repeatedly and frequently, should take steps to limit their exposure.

“I think using products that are less toxic – that may be more environmentally-friendly – and also, just when you’re applying those products, doing it with the adequate amount of ventilation around. (Those) are all things that you can do… to minimise the long-term risk,” Dr. Cowl says.

So if you want to breathe easy in a squeaky clean home, turn on a fan or open a window while you clean. Don’t mix products. And select cleaners with less irritating fumes. – Mayo Clinic News Network/Tribune News Service.