Household products contribute as much air pollution as automobiles

Everyday products such as perfume, skin lotion, hair spray, deodorant, household cleaners and lawn pesticides are a top source of air pollution, as damaging to air quality as the exhaust from cars and trucks, a new study published in the journal Science (2/2018) shows.

Consumer products containing compounds refined from petroleum all release small amounts of smog-producing particles into the air, combining to release as many volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, into the atmosphere as vehicle emissions do. Imagine having the tailpipe of your car exhaust directly into your living room or your child’s bedroom!

While regulations requiring more efficient cars and more tightly sealed gas pumps have actually cut down on transportation pollution even though fuel use is increasing.  However, consumer products have become a more prominent source of volatile organic compounds.

Previous EPA estimates held that about 75 percent of fossil VOC emissions came from fuel-related vehicle sources and about 25 percent from chemical products but the new study puts the split closer to 50-50, showing that “everyday consumer choices can have a meaningful impact on urban air quality.

“We can confidently say that emissions of these nontraditional sources will negatively impact urban air quality pretty much anywhere they are used in large quantities — that is, pretty much any city around the U.S., Europe or the world,”research team member Christopher Cappa, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Davis.

Keep your home and your family healthy by minimizing the indoor air pollution you create by choosing household products for cleaning and personal care that are unscented and as chemical-free as possible.

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