While most tend to think that trucks, buses, and other vehicles are huge sources of air pollution, a recent study reveals that consumer products like printer ink, fragrances, and cleaning agents are also a big part of the problem.
Turns out a large portion of air pollution comes from chemical reactions into our atmosphere from a huge number of molecules referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They can come from differing sources, both natural and man-made. When it comes to urban regions, VOCs have traditionally come from natural gas and car fuel (either diesel or gasoline).
Still, thanks to increased regulations around the environment and advances in technology, VOCs released by cars have decreased significantly.
CNN advises that the research team around this new study used detailed records around chemical and energy production to find out what fraction of VOCs from natural gas and oil were released via car fuels opposed to other sources. With the decline in car emissions, close to double as much came from chemical products versus car fuel. These included paints, cleaning products, printer ink, and fragrances.
VOCs from these sources got into the air, as they easily evaporate; which in many instances is what they were created to do. Without evaporating so easily, consumers wouldn’t be able to smell those beautiful perfume scents, aromas from candles, and air fresheners that are strategically placed in bathrooms.
And while VOCs still exist, the good news is, those coming from fuels have decreased significantly, therefore making the air cleaner; which makes it no big surprise that consumer products are now responsible for a bigger portion of VOCs released.
Still, while most people spend a majority of their time inside, it’s important to be aware of consumer product VOCs and limit their use, when possible. Opening a window and airing out your house or office space routinely is a good idea too. Additionally, NASA research has also indicated that house plants such as spider plants and weeping figs are also great at decreasing VOCs within indoor air, and every little bit helps when it comes to keeping the air (indoors and outdoors, alike), as clean as possible.