Exposure levels to some of the pollutants and to the secondary pollutants formed when some of the products mix with ozone may exceed regulatory guidelines when a large surface is cleaned in a small room or when the products are used regularly, resulting in chronic exposure, according to the study.
The study is the first to measure emissions and concentrations of primary and secondary toxic compounds produced by these products under typical indoor use conditions, and it examines the potential hazards of small-scale yet widespread utilization of an array of products designed for household use.
"We've focused a lot of effort in the last decades on controlling the big sources of air pollution and on the chemicals in consumer products that contribute to outdoor ozone formation. However, now we've learned that we need to pay attention to other aspects of pollution sources that are right under our nose," said William Nazaroff, a UC Berkeley professor of environmental engineering and the study's lead author.
To comply with its mandate to protect public health and welfare, for the past four decades the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has been developing and implementing regulatory programs to reduce air pollution in the state. These regulations also cover emissions of volatile organic compounds from consumer products used in homes and institutions.
Several years ago, when a handful of new studies raised the concern that consumer products may be contributing to indoor pollution levels in ways that were not fully understood, the ARB commissioned Nazaroff and his team to study the problem.