A report by Government scientists will warn that lemon and pine scents commonly used in household cleaning products – including leading natural brands – contribute to the growing amount of dangerous air pollution in the home.

An article in last week’s Sunday Times suggests that publication of the report – compiled by Defra’s Air Quality Expert Group – has been delayed until after the upcoming General Election. 

Post-Brexit environmental and pollution standards have become a politically charged issue following the EU Referendum vote. Many environmentalists fear the present Government is intent on relaxing current EU-based regulations.

The new report will say that the scents – alpha pinene and limonene – break down to produce benzene and formaldehyde. Benzene has been shown to attack bone marrow and red blood cells, while formaldehyde damages eyes and lungs. Studies show that exposure to both substances may raise the risk of cancer.

The volatile organics from one aerosol can are equivalent to those released by a driving a diesel car for 6,000 miles

In its report, the expert group will present its findings that many homes have pollution levels higher than the busiest city streets – much of it caused by cleaning chemicals, cosmetic sprays, aerosol propellants and DIY products. 

The Times reports comments made by the group’s chairman at a Royal Society conference: “We are using more chemical products now than ever so it is one of the few areas of pollution where our individual and collective emissions are surging.

“The problem is that, once released, they react in the air to produce toxins. The volatile organics from one aerosol can are equivalent to those released by a driving a diesel car for 6,000 miles.”

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About the Author

Jim Manson

Jim Manson is Editor-In-Chief of Diversified Communication UK's natural and organic publishing portfolio. He’s written widely on environment and development issues for specialist magazines and national media, including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times, Time Out and World Bank Urban Age.

Articles by Jim Manson
Jim Manson
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