It’s not just pesticides and motor vehicles

Unfortunately, we are exposed to potentially harmful chemicals almost anywhere. The tension between regulation in the public interest and corporate sales plays out even in our homes.

See “Volatile chemical products emerging as largest petrochemical source of urban organic emissions” by Brian C. McDonald et al., Science, 16 Feb 2018: Vol. 359, Issue 6377, pp. 760-764.

According to the summary:

Air pollution evolution

Transport-derived emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have decreased owing to stricter controls on air pollution. This means that the relative importance of chemicals in pesticides, coatings, printing inks, adhesives, cleaning agents, and personal care products has increased. McDonald et al. show that these volatile chemical products now contribute fully one-half of emitted VOCs in 33 industrialized cities (see the Perspective by Lewis). Thus, the focus of efforts to mitigate ozone formation and toxic chemical burdens need to be adjusted.

When we talk to people about defending the environment, we need to mention that human well-being is inextricably related to environmental health. As the article’s very first sentence notes, “Exposure to air pollution is the fifth ranking human health risk factor globally, following malnutrition, dietary risks, high blood pressure, and tobacco.”

On that scale, details seem small, but perhaps it is time to pay attention to those warnings one reads about harmful chemicals in things like printed receipts, styrofoam cups, and cleaning sprays.

Read and download the full article here. Read more comment, see “Wall Paint, Perfumes and Cleaning Agents Are Polluting Our Air” by Rhitu Chatterjee, NPR, February 15, 2018.

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