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The Little-Known Danger of Household Cleaning Products

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What type of cleaning products do you use to clean your home? While some homeowners use natural cleaning products, such as vinegar, most rely on store-bought cleaning products that contain one or more synthetic chemicals. Over time, exposure to these chemicals could take a toll on your health, and in some cases, increase your risk of chronic disease.

Cleaning Chemicals Linked to COPD

According to a new study, long-term exposure to common cleaning chemicals increases the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Researchers at the University of Versailles, as well as Harvard, found that nurses in hospitals are up to 38% more likely to develop COPD because they frequently exposed to cleaning chemicals.

Researchers say that alcohol, bleach and peroxide are particularly problematic because of their ability to damage lung tissue. While commonly used in a variety of household cleaning products, these three chemicals irritate and damage the lining of the lungs. Researchers found that nurses who inhaled these chemicals on a regular basis were more likely to develop COPD than their counterparts who rarely or never inhaled them.

"There is a biological plausibility that long-term exposure to irritant disinfectants and cleaning agents could contribute to persistent airway damage and COPD," wrote the study's researchers and authors.

What Is COPD?

COPD is a catch-all term used to describe a variety of chronic respiratory diseases, including bronchitis and emphysema. It's frequently associated with cigarette smoking. People who smoke cigarettes have a significantly higher risk of developing COPD than nonsmokers.

Statistics show about 16 billion Americans currently suffer from COPD. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 3 million people die from it each year. The primary risk factor for COPD is cigarette smoking, but researchers believe that exposure to cleaning chemicals can also lead to COPD.

Choosing Safe Cleaning Products

You can still use clean your home, as well as your workplace, but you need to choose the right type of cleaning products. As previously mentioned, products containing alcohol, bleach and peroxide have been shown to damage the lining of the lungs, thereby increasing the risk of COPD. Because of this, it's best to avoid using cleaning products containing any of these chemicals.

So, what type of cleaning products should you use? Rather than using a chemical-based cleaning product, consider using vinegar. Distilled white vinegar has natural antimicrobial properties, meaning it kills germs on contact. More importantly, it's nontoxic and doesn't damage the lining of your lungs.

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