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Air Pollution from Household Chemicals Matches that from Motor​ Vehicles


Research from NOAA and CIRES on particle emission formation from petroleum refined chemical compounds and every day household products, in a number of industrialized urban centers, shows how this process has been found to impact the breathable atmosphere, just as much as does pollution from motor vehicle emissions, according to a study published last month in the journal Science.

Volatile Chemical Products (VCPs) – Emerging Source of Air Pollution

In the said study, lead author, Brian McDonald, from The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science (CIRES) at Colorado, USA, and co-author Jessica Gillman from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weighed out the contribution to air pollution from certain industrial products such as pesticides, coatings, printing inks, adhesives, cleaning agents, household chemicals, and personal care products including soaps, lotions, creams and cosmetics, etc.  They found 40 percent of these find their way into the atmosphere, with the remaining 60 percent draining through bathroom and kitchen sinks, or end up in landfills after garbage handling equipment and vehicles collect them.

VOCs vs VCPs – Emission Trends Reversing?

Two distinct yet related sources of air pollution make up the total particle forming aerosols and volatile compounds emissions.  One of them, coming from petroleum and natural gas is termed by scientists volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are derived from the transportation sector; while the other, of petrochemical origin compose what is known as volatile chemical products (VCPs), and get released primarily from industrial uses and household products such as pesticides, paints, and cosmetics.

As stated by the report, people use a lot more fuel than they do petroleum-based compounds in chemical products—about 15 times more by weight, according to the new assessment. Even so, lotions, paints and other products contribute about as much to air pollution as the transportation sector does.  In the case of one type of pollution—tiny particles that can damage people’s lungs—particle-forming emissions from chemical products are about twice as high as those from the transportation sector, 

“As transportation gets cleaner, those other sources become more and more important,” McDonald said. “The stuff we use in our everyday lives can impact air pollution.”

Stemming from the assessment, VOCs drift into the atmosphere and react to produce either ozone or particulate matter—both of which are regulated in the United States and many other countries because of health impacts, including lung damage.

[Via Phys.org]


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