everyday-pollution:-showering-or-vacuuming-generates-more-environmental-footprint-than-traffic

Everyday pollution: showering or vacuuming generates more environmental footprint than traffic

Everyday pollution: showering or vacuuming generates more environmental footprint than traffic

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Daily pollution: showering or vacuuming generates more environmental footprint than traffic

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Daily pollution: showering or vacuuming generates more environmental footprint than traffic

When we think of pollution, the first thing that comes to mind is traffic in big cities or a picture of coal-fired power plants on the outskirts. When the pandemic forced global closures in dozens of cities, a positive, albeit temporary, advantage was the reduction in outdoor air pollution. From the US to China, the levels s e decreased significantly . However, as countries have reopened, contamination has recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

But when we focus only on outdoor air pollution, we miss a simple yet extremely important fact: Most of our exposure to air pollution occurs indoors, when we least expect it, in our daily activities.

Pollution, in our house . According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollutant levels can be two to five times higher than outside, and blockages stemming from the pandemic made it even worse. Come on, we were in a bad way anyway. Many of us use soaps, aftershaves, perfumes, and personal care products. While most studies on indoor air pollution tend to focus on candles, the effects of the products we use in homes are much larger.

Chemicals derived from fossil fuels that evaporate from printing inks, adhesives, coatings, cleaning agents or personal care products are also the major contributors to emissions, beating even the traffic .

The study. Scientist Amber Yeoman has been studying the air pollution that occurs when we shower . And the results of his experiment are surprising. She and her colleagues installed sample tubes in a shower room. Each of the volunteers was given the same products from the supermarket and asked to take a shower; starting with face wash and shower gel, followed by shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer and then deodorant spray.

One by one, the volatile organic compounds were measured . The worst part came mainly from the citrus-scented shampoo, the benzyl alcohol from the conditioner, and the ethanol from the moisturizer. Although different for each person, and those who rinsed longer produced fewer emissions. Other chemicals were also observed, possibly related to the laundry products used to wash each volunteer’s towel or clothing.

Solutions? More attention has already started these products due to the cumulative impact of household emissions and the way they react together to form air pollution. And the fight will not be easy. Basically, because no matter how much we know the environmental footprint of these activities, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to neutralize it. We all do those activities.

The first step will be hold manufacturers responsible of the contamination of the products they sell. Switching to other than aerosols would be another simpler solution. It is clear from the study that labeling would have to reflect the impact and fate of these chemicals in our drains and river systems. “Air quality labels would help communicate potential negative impacts to consumers and could encourage manufacturers to change their products to attract health-conscious buyers,” explained the study author in this report from The Guardian .

The surprising dangers of cooking. Indoor air pollution also comes from a wide range of activities. Fine particles are released from practices such as cooking (frying and roasting in particular), cleaning and from fires and candles. Worldwide, an estimated three billion people still cook with open fires or simple stoves powered by kerosene, coal or biomass, which produce large amounts of pollution.

A study indicates that you are more exposed to PM2.5 (tiny particles that are dangerous to human health when inhaled) when cooking an omelette in your kitchen than by standing next to any road in London. Another study also suggests that cooking a family barbecue or Thanksgiving dinner could produce higher levels of PM2.5 than those found on the streets of Delhi, one of the world’s most polluting cities. Surprisingly, the highest levels of PM2.5 were detected when preparing breakfast . That is why experts emphasize that people should always use the range hood or open a window when cooking.

Or clean . We also use a lot of chemicals in the air in our homes. They are embedded in glues used in furniture, as well as in paints, sealants, and wood and building materials. But there are also those emitted by household cleaning products, personal care products such as shower gels and fragrances, glues, inks and air fresheners. Individually, some are more harmful than others, although almost all react with oxides of Nitrogen to create ground-level ozone.

Even vacuuming is also another source of contamination from indoor air, unless appropriate high-quality filters are used, and wiping with certain cleaners can also increase the levels of chemicals in the air.

Negative health effects . Some of the deadliest types of pollution, including nitrogen oxides and nanoparticles, are also tiny enough to pass not only through the walls of the lungs and enter the bloodstream, but also around closed doors and inside. households.

According to the World Health Organization , around 3.8 million people die each year from exposure to household air pollution. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to a variety of diseases, including asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Image: Unsplash

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