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Air pollution from home products a risk

London [PAA]

Exposure to pollution from household products is putting lives at risk, experts have warned.

Items used frequently around homes such as air fresheners, candles and cleaning products are heightening people’s risk of developing a number of health problems, a new report states.

Being exposed to personal care products, mould or mildew, fires or wood-burning stoves and poorly maintained gas heaters and boilers could be leading to a number of health problems, according to the report by Britain’s Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

While it is commonly understood that smoking causes indoor air pollution, the experts also outlined a number of other items linked to potential health impacts including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory problems and effects on the heart and cancer.

Indoor air pollution may have caused or contributed to 99,000 deaths in just one year across Europe, the report states.

‘Being indoors can offer some protection against outdoor air pollution, but it can also expose us to other air pollution sources’, the authors wrote.

‘There is now good awareness of the risks from badly maintained gas appliances, radioactive radon gas and second-hand tobacco smoke, but indoors we can also be exposed to NO2 from gas cooking and solvents that slowly seep from plastics, paints and furnishings.

‘The lemon and pine scents that we use to make our homes smell fresh can react chemically to generate air pollutants, and ozone-based air fresheners can also cause indoor air pollution.’

Other items that are exposing people to potentially harmful pollutants include joss sticks, cookers, boilers, open fires and portable gas or paraffin heaters.

Meanwhile the building itself and the materials it is made from are also potential sources of chemical pollutants.

The authors added: ‘These include the construction materials, as well as paints, glues, furniture, wallpaper and drapery. Cleaning and DIY products, air fresheners and other consumer products such as insecticide sprays that we use in the home are also important.’

The authors said that the drive to reduce energy costs by creating homes with tighter ventilation could be making the situation ‘worse’.

The report concluded that exposure to pollutants from both inside and outside the home could be contributing to thousands more deaths than previously estimated.

Air pollution has been linked to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity and dementia.


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