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PNS Daily Newscast - December 14, 2018 


The Senate votes to withdraw funding for the Saudi war in Yemen. Also on the Friday rundown: the Global Climate Conference reinforces the need for grassroots movements; and could this be the most wasteful time of year?

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Are Household Chemicals Poisoning the Air We Breathe?

Researchers say when considering air-quality standards, it's important to know the air pollution impacts of the products we use in our everyday lives. (Jon Seidman/Flickr)
Researchers say when considering air-quality standards, it's important to know the air pollution impacts of the products we use in our everyday lives. (Jon Seidman/Flickr)
February 28, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Because cars are now dramatically cleaner than they used to be, products such as skin lotions and indoor cleaners are becoming the dominant source of urban air emissions, according to a new study.

Lead author and scientist Brian McDonald with the University of Colorado 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.

"What this means is that, 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 adds.

He says those volatile compounds are commonly found in fumes generated by furniture polish, 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.

"And what we found was that the concentration of chemicals are roughly seven times higher than in the outdoor air," McDonald notes. "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."

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY