Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

A Hidden Source of Air Pollution? Your Daily Household Tasks


Cooking, cleaning and other routine household activities generate significant levels of volatile and particulate chemicals inside the average home, leading to indoor air quality levels on par with a polluted major city, University of Colorado Boulder researchers say.

What’s more, airborne chemicals that originate inside a house don’t stay there: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from products such as shampoo, perfume and cleaning solutions eventually escape outside and contribute to ozone and fine particle formation, making up an even greater source of global atmospheric air pollution than cars and trucks do.

The previously underexplored relationship between households and air quality drew focus today at the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., where researchers from CIRES and CU Boulder's Department of Mechanical Engineering presented their recent findings during a panel discussion.

“Homes have never been considered an important source of outdoor air pollution and the moment is right to start exploring that,” said Marina Vance, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at CU Boulder. “We wanted to know: How do basic activities like cooking and cleaning change the chemistry of a house?”

Read the full story from CU Boulder.


CIRES is a partnership of NOAA and CU Boulder.


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