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How Alpha 1 Patients Can Stay Healthy While Cleaning

Some cleaning products can cause or worsen respiratory problems for those with genetic lung conditions.

Alpha 1 cleaning images

For those living with the genetic lung condition Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, keeping a dust-free home seems like a natural thing to do, to avoid breathing difficulties. Experts say using some chemical cleaning products to disinfect and keep dust at bay in the home can be dangerous for Alpha 1 patients.

Dr. Timothy Craig, an allergist and immunologist at Penn State Health said in an interview with his organization’s The Medical Minute earlier this year that repeated exposure to harmful chemicals over a lifetime, may lead to significant disability in later life, for people with certain respiratory conditions, including Alpha 1.

When giving advice to patients to take care of their lungs, while cleaning, we asked Eva Maroto, a respiratory therapist with Spain’s Fundación Lovexair her opinion. Even products labeled as “safe to breathe” can irritate lungs, she says, so it’s important for patients to learn how to use all cleaning products safely.

Here are some additional tips from Maroto:

Don’t use sprays. “Sprays turn cleaning solutions into a fine mist and many particles end up floating in the air. The particles settle in the air and penetrate into our lungs when we breathe in and can become even more harmful.”

Eva suggests dipping a cloth or sponge into the cleaning solution, wringing it out and using circular motions to distribute it evenly. Clean off the solution with a damp cloth, before wiping over again with a dry one. 

Don’t use chemical cleaning products as frequently. “We don’t need to use chemical cleansers and disinfectant solutions so frequently. Almost all cleaning tasks can be done with a clean cloth, warm water and soap.”

Keep the room well ventilated. “It’s essential that when you clean and after finishing, keep the room well ventilated because its helps to eliminate harmful fumes.”

Plan ahead when using chemical cleaning products. “Use liquid solution instead of sprays and make sure you wear a mask, gloves and goggles if needed. Open the windows and perhaps even find someone to help you out.”

While chemical cleaning products can be problematic for people with Alpha 1, Maroto says that natural solutions can often work just as well. For tough cleaning jobs, she suggests patients make a homemade cleaning solution that contains baking soda or vinegar.

For more advice on how Alpha 1 patients can manage environmental risks at home, check out Alphanet’s Staying Healthy guide.