pollution shampooShampoo, along with other personal care products have been targeted in the news today for being potentially more harmful than car fumes.  Bizarre as this may seem the claim is based on a thorough study by the Universities of Colarado and California Berkley. According to the lead author Brian Mcdonald “As transportation gets cleaner, those other sources become more and more important.  The stuff we use in our everyday lives can impact air pollution”.

As dangerous as car fumes

The risks stem from Volatile Organic Compounds which these days are well regulated and controlled in the car and fuel industries.  When the group looked at the levels of pollution in Los Angeles they expected to get a 75% to 25% split between chemical production levels and indoor pollution from every day items.  The result was astonishingly more like 50-50. Basically the stuff we use in our normal lives to keep us clean and smelling fragrant now poses as great a threat as fuel burnt in cars and probably requires some regulation.  Co Author Jessica Gilman explains the nature of the problem, “Gasoline is stored in closed, hopefully airtight, containers and the VOCs in gasoline are burned for energy,” she said. “But volatile chemical products used in common solvents and personal care products are literally designed to evaporate. You wear perfume or use scented products so that you or your neighbor can enjoy the aroma. You don’t do this with gasoline,”

Massive concentrations in the home

Further exacerbating the problem is the fact that household personal products are not always air tight and are used in an enclosed space, meaning that we are exposed to far more concentration (up to 10 times more) than outside. The irony is, that other studies have linked chemical pollution to hair loss.  Probably best to make sure that you put the top back on the bottle after use!

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By Ian Watson

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