New research has found that shampoo, oven cleaner, deodorant, perfumes, bleach and other domestic products can be as impactful a source of dangerous air pollution as cars.
An analysis of air pollution in Los Angeles by scientists revealed that half of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found to be present, came from household products. VOCs break down into particles called PM2.5 which are harmful to our health and can cause a number of respiratory problems. These particles have been linked to 29,000 premature deaths in the UK. Although the study was conducted in the US, the scientists behind it say that its findings are likely to apply to other cities too.
Vehicle emissions have often been highlighted as the main contributor of PM2.5 particles. However the new findings, published by the journal Science, emphasise the need to tackle other sources too. “We don’t use a vast amount of these products in our daily lives. It is pretty small compared to fuel,” Joost de Gouw, from the University of Colorado Boulder, said to The Times . “But that fuel is combusted very efficiently. A small amount makes it into the atmosphere.” When released, VOCs form ozone as well as particles of PM2.5, to provide a double blow to both the environment and our health. “The net result is it rivals that from vehicles,” says de Gouw.
So what’s the best way to tackle these unexpected sources of air pollution? Cut back on using the most common culprits and as recommended by Jessica Gilman, of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, use unscented products.
E-cloth’s selection of chemical-free cleaning products (ranging from cloths for different surfaces to mops) uses intelligent microfibre tech to attract and trap dirt and dust and just requires water. In terms of fragrance-free beauty products , there are plenty on the market that rival their more heavily scented counterparts. Check out GTG’s Sense and Sensitivity columnist Judy Johnson’s edit of the best here.