Research shows that housework is more dangerous for you than smoking

Research shows that housework is more dangerous for you than smoking

If there's one thing out there that nobody likes (no, not Piers Morgan) it's housework. Yes, it sucks, but it has to be done. Which is not to say that I'm a paragon of sanitation by any means. When I was a student, my halls of residence looked like a cross between a graphic crime scene and an open landfill, with strange and sinister stains on the walls and counters, piles of dishes breeding foul and furry life forms in the mold, and a carpet dustier than Tutankhamun's tomb.

Yet, when my lease was up and it was time to move, I didn't shy away from rolling up my sleeves, grabbing the cleaning spray and going to town on the filth before I lost my deposit. Okay, so maybe the damage was already done and I had to fork out the cash in the end, but I tried dammit.

A black and white photo of a family cleaning their home. Credit: Getty

But should I? The pig-pens among us hate to be told to buck up our ideas around hygiene, but what if I told you that you actually had it right all along, and that cleaning is actually bad for you? In fact, what if I told you that it was actually worse for you than smoking? Good news for the slobs, and bad news for the neat-freaks, right? But the thing is, I'm not fooling you. New research seems to suggest that that's exactly the case.

According to a study conducted by researchers from Bergen University, cleaning sprays and other products are so bad for your lungs, that inhaling them regularly through cleaning can be worse for your overall health than smoking 20 cigarettes a day for approximately  20 years, and can increase the rate of asthma by up to 43 per cent in that time. The study, which involved around 6,000 participants, also showed that women were far more at risk than men.

A number of cigarettes. Credit: Pixabay/klimkin

Oistein Svanes, who co-authored the study, claimed that chemicals used in cleaning solutions can often irritate the lining of the airways, which creates to long-term changes in respiration. Svanes added that these harmful chemicals are usually unnecessary, and that a decent cloth, hot water and plenty of elbow grease is actually simple enough for most situations.

Svanes stated: "Cleaning chemicals very likely cause substantial lung damage. Think of particles from cleansers meant for floors, not lungs, and maybe it’s no surprise ... the take-home message is that in the long run cleaning chemicals very likely cause rather substantial damage to your lungs. These chemicals are usually unnecessary; microfibre cloths and water are more than enough for most purposes."

A vacuum cleaner. Credit: Pixabay/stevepb

Commenting on the findings, Sarah MacFadyen, a representative from the British Lung Foundation, said:

"Breathing in any kind of air pollution can have an impact on our health, especially for those living with a lung condition. This study further confirms that air pollution can come from a range of sources, including from paints, adhesives and cleaning products we use indoors. Ensuring we keep our homes well ventilated, using liquid cleaners instead of sprays and checking that our cookers and heaters are in good working order will help protect us and prevent everyday products impacting on our lungs."

So there you have it; next time your housemate starts getting on your case about the washing up, you can be safe in the knowledge that putting it off for an extra day won't kill you. Putting it off for life on the other hand, probably will, so watch out.