Cleaning Safety: Housework Hazards

Cleaning chemicals can cause breathing problems, according to a new study from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Women with asthma reported worse symptoms -- such as coughing and wheezing -- but cleaning gave even non-sufferers sneezing fits and a stuffy nose. Since a dirty house isn't an option, breathe easier by trying these tips.
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  • Choose cleaning products that have low health-risk scores as compiled by the National Institutes of Health (see The index rates products from 0 ("minimal" for health risk) through 4 ("severe").
  • Try damp dusting. If you need to avoid chemicals altogether and it works for the surface you're cleaning, use just a little water on a cloth or sponge.
  • Minimize chemical splashes by adding bleach to water, not the other way around.
  • Especially if you're asthmatic, consider wearing an N95 face mask approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, available online and at some hardware stores.

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, May 2009.


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