November 29, 2010
RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Household cleaning products are about to get a lot, well, cleaner, thanks to a new ruling from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The board voted last week to limit the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by cleaning products and a variety of other household products, due to the fact that VOCs often react with other air pollutants to form lung-damaging ozone.
THE DETAILS: In cleaning products, the primary sources of VOCs are solvents, says Gennet Paauwe, spokeswoman for CARB, such as glycol ethers used to cut grime in products like floor and oven cleaners. Propellants used in aerosol products can emit VOCs as well, as can some synthetic fragrances. VOCs are chemicals that become a gas at room temperature and can be inhaled by people; some react with UV light and other air pollutants to form ozone (or smog), a lung irritant that can trigger asthma attacks and worsen bronchitis and emphysema. In some cases, VOCs can react with ozone in the air to form cancer-causing chemicals, such as formaldehyde.