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Report: Indoor Pollution Now Rivals Motor Vehicle Emissions

A new study says automobiles are so much cleaner than 100 years ago, paints, perfumes and household cleaning agents are taking over the top spot for urban air pollution. (indoorpollution.info)
A new study says automobiles are so much cleaner than 100 years ago, paints, perfumes and household cleaning agents are taking over the top spot for urban air pollution. (indoorpollution.info)
February 23, 2018

BOULDER, Colo. – Because cars are now dramatically cleaner than they used to be, a new study has found products such as skin lotions and indoor cleaners are becoming the dominant source of urban air emissions.

University of Colorado lead author and scientist, Brian McDonald, says common household products such as printer ink or cleaning agents are now a major cause for concern because the transportation industry is much cleaner than it was 50 to 100 years ago.

"As emissions from tailpipe sources come down, then other sources from everyday use of chemical products – things like pesticides, paints, perfumes – are becoming a more and more important source of emissions of these volatile organic compounds," he explains.

The study was published in the journal Science and conducted by CU's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.

McDonald's study measured volatile organic compounds, which play a significant role in the formation of ozone and fine particulates in the atmosphere. He notes that tiny particles damage people's lungs.

"Fine particulate matter is one of the largest sources of human health impacts when you're thinking about air pollution," he says.

He says volatile compounds are commonly found in furniture, fumes generated by cooking, detergents, soaps, pesticides and other petroleum based products.

McDonald says, in terms of meeting air quality standards, it's important to know that what we use in our everyday lives is impacting air pollution.

"What we found was that the concentration of chemicals are roughly seven times higher than in the outdoor air," notes McDonald. "Just pointing out that when you're considering exposure to air pollution, it's not just what you breathe outdoors, but it's also what you breathe indoors as well."

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO