5-speed listening (Household Items - Level 6)

Household items as bad as cars for pollution



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Scientists say we are unaware of a massive cause of pollution that is right under our very noses. Everyday household items such as toothpaste, shaving foam, deodorant, perfume and furniture polish contain volatile compounds that help to cause pollution. Dr Brian McDonald, an air-pollution researcher at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, conducted research into how our homes create pollution. His team was surprised to find that household items now contribute as heavily to particular types of air pollution as cars, trucks and other vehicles. Dr McDonald said that as "the transportation sector gets cleaner, these other sources...become more and more important".

The researchers focused on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a whole range of household items. VOCs react with sunlight to form ozone pollution. This escapes into the environment and gets trapped in our house or apartment, causing pollution in our homes. The scientists said VOCs interact with other chemicals to form tiny particles in the air. These particles can lead to lung damage. Dr McDonald said governments should regulate household products more tightly to reduce their negative impact on our health. He issued a stark 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."

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Household Items - Level 4  |  Household Items - Level 5

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