Formaldehyde is the most common airborne chemical in US homes

Terpenes and formaldehyde top chemical list

Airborne chemicals from household products, including soaps, perfumes and cleaning fluids have been found to linger within homes. The chemicals are emitted as gases from solids and liquids and are known volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

New research from Honeywell Air Purifiers has identified that there may be up to 300 different VOCs found within indoor air. The company worked with a team of environmental health scientists to create a list of the most-commonly found VOCs in households across the US.

Top ten most common VOCs:

1. Formaldehyde
2. Terpenes (pinene and limonene)
3. Ethanol
4. Dichlorobenzene
5. Benzene
6. Toluene
7. Acetone
8. Carbon disulphide
9. Butanal
10. Xylene

Many of these chemicals are frequently found in personal care products. Formaldehyde is often found in nail polish formulas, as well as some hair care products. Acetone is most commonly used as furniture polish or nail polish remover. Terpenes are also often found in fragrances, soaps and other personal care products.

Dr Ted Myatt, explained how exposure to these chemicals could be harmful: “Human exposure to VOCs occurs predominantly through inhalation of contaminated air, particularly indoor air – and this exposure is often increased from the use of household cleaning and personal care products. Many household VOCs have known toxicities and can be associated with headaches and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.”

Honeywell has also recommended a number of steps consumers can take to reduce the number of VOCs in their homes. They suggest selecting organic products which release fewer VOCs, increasing ventilation when products are used and using an air purifier.

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