Cleaning: The Silent Killer

By Eve Abraha

Over the course of history, women have generally been the “ideal” candidate for taking care of several household duties- primarily cleaning. As such, the main tests subjects for this experiment were women since a higher population of cleaners tend to be women. Once the test subjects were isolated, it became clear that the effects of the cleaning industry has lead to long term negative effects in women’s health, as noted by the American Thoracic Society. It was recently noted by researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway that cleaning sprays and other cleaning products have lead to an increase in lung function decline in many women. This decline was triggered by the multiple occurrences of when the cleaning spray was used and some of the toxic chemicals were inhaled, which later caused issues with the “mucous membranes lining the airways which… results in persistent changes in the airways and airway remodeling.” Even after removing any extraneous variables that may have affected the data, the effects of inhalation of chemical products were still prominent. In fact, so much so that studies were noting how women who cleaned a lot with these products and did not wear face masks were shown to have the same level of lung defects as someone who smoked 20 packs of cigarettes a year. These studies indicate how easy exposure to these chemicals can cause serious health issues. In the future, it is recommended that one wears at least a face mask when cleaning, as well as using materials that do not contain as many toxic chemicals.


American Thoracic Society. (2018, February 16). Women who clean at home or work face increased lung function decline, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 25, 2018 from