Health experts warn those with asthma, chronic lung conditions to be careful when spring cleaning


Kentucky Health News

Spring has arrived in Kentucky, prompting many to tackle the annual chore of spring-cleaning, but health experts caution people who suffer from asthma or other chronic lung conditions to proceed with caution because some cleaning supplies can be hazardous to your health, according to a Penn State Health news release.

The key to cleaning safely, if you have one of these conditions, is to take proper precautions when using cleaning supplies such as air fresheners, rug cleaners, bleach, oven cleaners, and floor polish, because they can produce vapors that may irritate the nose, throat, eyes and lung, the release says.

spring cleaning - Health experts warn those with asthma, chronic lung conditions to be careful when spring cleaning

“For most people, using chemical cleaners occasionally would not create clinically significant reductions in lung function,” Dr. Timothy Craig, an allergist and immunologist at Penn State, says in the release. “But repeated exposure to harmful chemicals over a lifetime could lead to significant disability later in life, especially for people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic disorder that may cause lung or liver disease.”

About 11.6% of Kentucky adults have asthma, and rates are significantly higher among women than men: 16% and 6.9% respectively. About 11.4% of Kentucky adults have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and those rates are also significantly higher in women, 13.3% to 9.4% for men, according to the 2018 Kentucky Behavioral Risk Factor Survey annual report.

Here are six safety tips that the experts say should be on everyone’s spring cleaning checklist:

1 Don’t combine chemical cleaners, especially not ammonia and bleach.

2 Create proper ventilation. Open a window or door, or run a fan, while cleaning.

3 Wear rubber gloves and a mask.

4 Seek old-fashioned cleaners like warm water, baking soda,and vinegar.

5 Read labels. Look for volatile organic compounds and other potential irritants, even in products labeled as “green” or “healthy.”

6 Look for the “Safer Choice” logo. It’s found on 2,000 products, including cleaners, that the Environmental Protection Agency deems as “safer for human health and the environment.”

“People who experience any coughing, wheezing, throat soreness or eye-watering while using chemical cleaners should step into another room or walk outside. If the symptoms persist even after leaving the room, call a doctor,” says the release.

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