It's safe to assume that we all care about our health. We eat our greens, try to get enough sleep and exercise daily in an attempt to remain healthy from the inside-out… but how often do we think about the health of our lungs? The harmful effect that smoking can have on the body is well documented, but what about the chemicals we unknowingly ingest? New research suggests that toxicity might be much closer to home than you think.
Scientists have released a warning that cleaning products may be as bad for you as smoking 20 cigarettes a day. A study carried out by researchers at the University of Bergen, Norway, found significant lung decline in women who worked as cleaners or regularly used cleaning products in the home. The research followed 6000 men and women over a 20-year period and concluded that women, in particular, suffered health problems after using harmful cleaning products over a long period.
We've seen lots in the press about the short-term effects of cleaning products on conditions such as asthma, but the long-term effects are proving to be far more worrying than we could have envisioned due to the toxic ingredients in generic cleaning products.
Professor Cecile Svans from the University of Bergen says: "We feared that such chemicals, by steadily causing a little damage to the airways day after day, year after year, might accelerate the rate of lung function decline that occurs with age." The findings thus far have, worryingly, proved this hypothesis.
The vapours released from cleaning products evaporate almost entirely once they are sprayed onto their respective surface. Essentially, whatever chemicals you are using to rid your home of dirt and grime are ending up in the air, and therefore, in your lungs.
You wouldn't look at a brightly-coloured bottle under the kitchen sink and think it's an appealing liquid to ingest, but that's precisely what's happening when you spray such compounds onto your floors and surfaces. This is especially important when it comes to children. If a child were to take a sip from one of these bottles, you'd immediately rush them to A&E, yet when they place their hands upon surfaces you've just sprayed or breathe the air in your freshly 'cleaned' home, you could be causing accidental damage to their lung health too.
The negative impact on lung function is due to the inhalation of small particles from cleaning agents that are designed to remove bacteria from floors and surfaces, so it's hardly surprising that long-term inhalation of these toxic chemicals can have a destructive effect on the lungs.
Another worrying study pointed to the contribution of air pollution from these same chemicals, which are also detrimental to the environment. Household cleaners, perfumes, and paints have become some of the most prominent culprits of air pollution, especially when taking into account the reduction in road traffic emissions over the past few years.
The synthetic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in household cleaning products react with other chemicals in the atmosphere to produce harmful Ozone particulate matter known as PM2.5. This can trigger breathing problems and constrict the airways while increasing the risk of heart and lung disease.
While it's difficult to say how much air pollution is down to VOCs, experts estimate that between one-quarter and one-third of all particles are made up of compounds that originate from VOCs. This issue is much bigger than merely looking at the products that you buy on a regular basis; this problem is global. The UK is already making efforts to reduce domestic emissions, but these harmful chemicals will still be airborne until the poisonous compounds are regulated and, hopefully, prohibited.
At TINCTURE, we believe in all-natural products. It's our philosophy, and it's one of the key reasons that our founders, Angelika and Anastasia, started the company in the first place. We believe in feeling great from the inside-out, and while this feeling of 'goodness' starts with the home, it extends to the rest of our planet.
We have built our brand around ingredients that offer excellent cleaning while being gentle on the environment (that includes you, your skin, your children, your dog, and the air you breathe). We don't believe that health should be compromised to keep a clean home, which is why we'd never use harmful chemicals or VOC-producing compounds in any of our products.
Want to know what's in them? A pure blend of powerful, essential oils combined with Silver Technology to create a product that's safe to use and smells just as nature intended.
Cleaning isn't the most enjoyable activity, we know, but when it comes to looking after your home, make sure you're also looking after what's at the heart of it.