Cleaning Products & Indoor Air Quality: Actions you can take to reduce exposure

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Keeping your home and work place clean is one of the most important activities we can do to assure healthy indoor air quality. However, the indoor use of certain common cleaning products and air fresheners when ozone (the primary component of smog outdoors) is present may cause an increase in indoor concentrations of some pollutants.

Fortunately, people who use these products can take simple steps to reduce the production of air pollutants and their exposure to these pollutants. In a recent study funded by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), investigators from the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory measured pollutant concentrations during and after simulated cleaning activities, including mopping and general cleaning and during the use of a plug-in air freshener.

The investigators found that chemicals directly emitted from the products, such as terpenes and glycol ethers, generally were below levels of concern, but that indoor chemical reactions of the substances emitted produced some other pollutants at levels of health concern.

Specifically, using products that contained terpenes – which are components of pine and citrus oils – in rooms where elevated levels of ozone were present, resulted in the production of formaldehyde and ultrafine particles, both of which can potentially harm human health.

Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen with no level of exposure that poses zero risk and is a strong eye, nose, throat and lung irritant. Because there are many indoor sources of formaldehyde, it is found in nearly all homes and buildings.

Ultrafine particles and the potential health effects associated with them are not well understood, but exposure to particle pollutants from the outdoor environment is associated with a variety of health effects, including serious heart and lung disease and even premature death. Increased exposure to these pollutants indoors could be a concern for professional house cleaners, individuals cleaning in small enclosed areas, and individuals with pre-existing lung or heart disease.

Actions You Can Take!

Fortunately, there are measures one can take to reduce exposure to these pollutants during and immediately following cleaning activities. Users of cleaning products should:

  • Do not use Ozone machines in the home or work place,
  • Be aware that Ionisers produce Ozone as a by-product, often levels above EPA safety limits,
  • Limit the use of cleaning products or air fresheners advertised as pine or lemon-scented, or that contain pine or citrus oils, especially during high outdoor pollution days,
  • When using cleaning products, avoid the use of indoor air cleaning devices such as electrostatic precipitators and ionizers that can emit some ozone. Air cleaners or air “purifiers” that intentionally produce ozone should never be used; they produce high levels of ozone, a reactive gas that may harm human health,
  • Do not use more of the cleaning agent than is necessary to complete the job,
  • Rinse surfaces liberally with water after cleaning (where appropriate); residual cleaning agents that remain on surfaces will continue to react with any ozone present in the air,
  • Remove the paper towels, sponges, and mops used in cleaning from the indoor living space; rinse sponges and mops well before storing,
  • Always use adequate ventilation during cleaning,
  • Keep the ventilation rate high for several hours after cleaning,
  • If you have cleaners at your home or workplace make sure they are aware that their work processes, chemicals and actions directly affect indoor air quality.

To find out more about our Air Quality Monitoring and how to improve your Air Quality, contact GermXit on +66 2 735 6823 – 25 or click here to send us an email.