Suburban smog: Cooking and cleaning pollute the air inside your home

Fort Collins, Colorado. – The home may be where the heart is, but new research from Colorado State University has found that the typical American dwelling may contain many airborne toxins, too. The study authors originally set out to determine whether cooking and cleaning indoors leads to exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Their hunch was right.

These findings are rooted in a large collaborative research experiment conducted in 2018 that attempted to map the airborne chemistry of a typical home. This project is called HomechemIt brought together 60 scientists from 13 different universities under one roof in a suburb near the University of Texas at Austin. Scientists engaged in a variety of typical “home activities” such as cooking and cleaning, all while documenting the resulting chemistry with sophisticated instruments.

Now, researchers at CSU have taken all the data collected during HOMEchem and analyzed it according to health effects. This led to the identification of many of the compounds that were observed known human toxins. Likewise, other compounds have been considered “potential human toxins” according to the latest EPA models. Most of these compounds tend to be emitted in low quantities, and can be removed fairly easily with proper ventilation.

Indoor Air Won’t Kill You

However, the study authors point out that modern medicine simply does not have a solid understanding of the potential health effects associated with both the individual compounds and their complex mixtures within. “Indoor air won’t kill you, but we find that indoor air contains more – and often higher levels – of known and potential air toxins than outside, in particular. when you cook,” says Delphine Farmer, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at California State University, in a University release.

The overall task of managing all that data in a meaningful way was led by study co-author Anna Hodshire, a former postdoctoral researcher at CSU who is skilled at analyzing data from atmospheric instruments.

“I think it’s very exciting to have so much emitted vehicles It is a common household activity, and that the majority of these compounds have not been studied from a toxicity perspective,” Hodshire explains. “This does not automatically mean that all of these compounds are toxic — but it does point to the fact that there is a lot more work to be done to evaluate some of the compounds that are emitted more often. frequent with high concentrations of household activities.”

What toxins are in the air?

Of the many compounds discovered and measured during HOMEChem, a few of the usual suspects have kept popping up time and time again. Both benzene and formaldehyde were frequently observed in varying amounts. In addition, the unknown acrolein, which is a pulmonary toxicant emitted from sawn timber and burnt fat, has been identified as an important potential compound that warrants further investigation. Another compound of concern is the little-studied isocyanic acid, which is known to interact with proteins in the human body.

The study authors report that cooking activities tend to produce higher amounts of toxic compounds, similar to what is seen In the smoke of forest fires. This makes sense to a certain degree, Professor Farmer adds, that wildfires can be considered an “extreme form of cooking”.

Overall, the study authors concluded that there is still a lot of research to be done regarding our understanding of every day. Exposure to potential toxins. Professor Farmer concludes, “We have now done our part, and hopefully there will be enough information for others to capture the charge and to know which compounds are important to study.”

The study Posted in Environmental science and technology.