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Household activities said to be hidden source of air pollution

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Scientists at University of Colorado Boulder have suggested that household activities are a hidden source of air pollution and because of this pollution levels inside homes is at par with a polluted major city.

Scientists have added that airborne chemicals that originate inside a house don’t stay there: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from products such as shampoo, perfume and cleaning solutions eventually escape outside and contribute to ozone and fine particle formation, making up an even greater source of global atmospheric air pollution than cars and trucks do.

In 2018 scientists carried out a study wherein they used advanced sensors and cameras to monitor the indoor air quality of a 1,200-square-foot manufactured home on the University of Texas Austin campus. Over the course of a month, scientists conducted a variety of daily household activities, including cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of the Texas summer.

While the HOMEChem experiment’s results are still pending, scientists say that it’s apparent that homes need to be well ventilated while cooking and cleaning, because even basic tasks like boiling water over a stovetop flame can contribute to high levels of gaseous air pollutants and suspended particulates, with negative health impacts.

The measured indoor concentrations were high enough that that their sensitive instruments needed to be recalibrated almost immediately.

Indoor and outdoor experts are collaborating to paint a more complete picture of air quality, said Joost de Gouw, a CIRES Visiting Professor. Last year, de Gouw and his colleagues published results in the journal Science showing that regulations on automobiles had pushed transportation-derived emissions down in recent decades while the relative importance of household chemical pollutants had only gone up.

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