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  • Graeme Warnell

Cleaning at home and work - the long term effects on health and well-being.

A 20 years clinical study was undertaken by the Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway and the Department of Occupational Medicine, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway. The report was named, “ Cleaning at home and at work in relation to lung function decline and airway obstruction”.

A total of 6,235 people in roles involving cleaning both commercial and domestic participated over a 20 year period. A series of lung function tests were carried out within this 20 year period on the individuals to measure the impact of long term exposure to cleaning chemicals and products.

The study suggests that also long-term respiratory health is impaired 10-20 years after cleaning activities. The study found accelerated lung function decline in women both following occupational cleaning and cleaning at home.

The effect size was comparable to the effect size related to 10-20 pack-years of tobacco smoking.

I was surprised when I came across this article which a colleague in France shared with me. I can only assume it was not widely circulated or, even worse it is being ignored.

If you are directly employing staff who regularly undertake cleaning activities or if you subcontract your cleaning to a third party to maintain your premises you should think long and hard about this report.

There are a lot of natural, non-chemical alternatives that can replace the array of toxic cleaning products that are used every day. Chemical cleaning products go on harming both the environment and our health well after they have been used for their initial purpose. Natural, non-chemical products can give something back to the environment and carry on working in a good way long after their initial use.

The age of “green” products being an expensive alternative are over. Often costing less than £0.50p per litre nature based products are far more affordable than many chemical cleaning products you may be currently using.

If you found this article interesting and would like more information on using nature-based products for cleaning instead of toxic chemicals, please email the author Graeme Warnell at

By implementing environmentally responsible cleaning and spill management practises, you could help reduce the pollution of our rivers and oceans, create a safer workplace for your employees, reduce your carbon footprint and put something good back into the environment so why wouldn’t you

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