Can home products worsen air quality? Take a look at L.A.’s air pollution.

Los Angeles Times published an article in 2018 about L.A.’s poor air quality and its origins. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are substances that quickly vaporize into the air, forming ozone at the ground level. You may have heard of the ozone layer, located way up in the atmosphere. This type of ozone is good for life on Earth, however, ozone at the ground level serves as a pollutant. According to this article, ground level ozone contributes to asthma, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease.  L.A. smog was previously attributed largely to gasoline tank vapors. The article describes that a recent study of the air in L.A. has found that consumer products produce VOCs at amounts seven times higher than outdoor air! VOCs are found in every day house products such as hairspray, paint, deodorant, nail polish remover, pesticides, and cleaning agents.

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I care about the information presented in this article because I am personally very interesting in environmental impacts on human health. I see a need for interdisciplinary approaches to evaluating current problems. Societal organization tends to categorize events to be of concern to a single discipline, rather than several. I enjoyed how this article tied in the idea of every day product use increasing VOCs, which causes an increase in ground level ozone, and ultimately negatively impacts human health. The disciplines affected in this article include business, environmental science, and health.

When first reading this article, I was shocked at the statement of indoor products producing seven times more VOCs than sources in outdoor air. In fact, I didn’t quite believe and trust this statement initially, so I did some additional research to see what other sources were saying. It turns out that other sources were making the same conclusions, which made me accept this new information. Reading this article affects L.A. locals and consumers in general. It makes readers aware of the environmental and health aspects of their current home products. This awareness sparks sustainable change and switching to intentional purchases. Locals have an incentive to learn about VOCs in their daily lives because of the health effects that will immediately affect them in their city. Atmospheric winds will spread pollution around, meaning that this local topic concerns everyone in the world.

2 thoughts on “Can home products worsen air quality? Take a look at L.A.’s air pollution.

  1. The article was such an interesting read! I did not realize things that we use everyday, such as hand sanitizer, scented products and paint and ink were part of the VOCs problem. I am now wondering what brands of products of household items contain higher VOC content than others? Because this information is something that should be made aware to the public especially if we’re seeing 7 folds increase in VOC concentrations indoors! This is especially a hazard especially if there are infants in the household whose immune system is still developing.

  2. Indoor air pollution is an up-and-coming field of science. Since most of us spend most of our time indoors, and since there are indoor VOC sources, indoor air pollution may be more harmful to our health than outdoor air pollution.

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