Household items as bad as cars for pollution

Scientists say a massive cause of pollution is right under our noses. Everyday household items such as toothpaste, deodorant, perfume and polish contain volatile compounds that lead to pollution. Dr Brian McDonald, an air-pollution researcher at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, conducted research into what creates pollution in our homes. He was surprised to find that household items now cause as much pollution as cars, trucks and other vehicles. Dr McDonald said that as "the transportation sector gets cleaner, these other sources…become more important".

The researchers looked at volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a range of household items. VOCs react with sunlight to form ozone pollution. This goes into the environment and gets trapped in our house or apartment. VOCs interact with other chemicals to form tiny particles in the air that can damage our lungs. Dr McDonald said we should regulate household products more tightly to reduce their impact on our health. He gave a warning, saying: "The things I use in the morning to get ready for work are comparable to emissions that come out of the tailpipe of my car."