Bleach does not only kill bacteria; it may be killing you as well. A recent joint study by Harvard University and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) found using bleach and other common household cleaners may cause lung disease.
According to the study’s findings, people using bleach and other disinfectants weekly to clean their home were at a 32 percent greater risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Making it difficult to breathe, the condition slowly emerges over time as fumes and contaminants in the air damage fibers in the lungs.
Starting with data first collected in 1989, researchers examined the survey results of 55,000 female nurses in the U.S. who remained in the same profession until 2009. The survey completed included questions about exposure to bleach, hydrogen peroxide as well as other disinfectants. The researchers were particularly interested in ones that did not have a history of COPD.
The women that were still active nurses in 2009 were then followed for an additional eight years. From 2009 to May 2017, 663 nurses developed COPD. Taking into account age, weight, and ethnicity, researchers concluded there is a link between the use of bleach and other common disinfectants to the disease.
The study’s findings suggest a need for updated warnings and health guidelines on common cleaning products. The potential risk for COPD from bleach and other disinfectants has received little interest from government agencies and health officials.
Symptoms of COPD include coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and tightness in the chest. Over 20 million people in the U.S. have some form of COPD, with smoking being the most common cause.