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Many cleaners, air fresheners may pose health risks when used indoors

g. "pine-scented") for these products and reviewed available product data sheets. Based on this information, they selected the 21 products most likely to contain significant amounts of terpenes and ethylene-based glycol ethers: four air fresheners and 17 cleaning products, including at least one each of disinfectants, general-purpose degreasers, general-purpose cleaners, wood cleaners, furniture maintenance products, spot removers and multi-purpose solvents.

A complete chemical analysis of these 21 products revealed that:

  • Twelve contained terpenes and other ozone-reactive compounds at levels ranging from 0.2 to 26 percent by mass.
  • Six contained levels of ethylene-based glycol ethers of 0.8 to 9.6 percent by mass.
  • Among the four air fresheners studied, three contained substantial quantities of terpenes (9-14 percent by mass)

When the researchers tested the terpene-containing products in the presence of ozone, they found that reactions produced very small particles with properties like those found in smog and haze; other oxidation products; and formaldehyde, a respiratory irritant that is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen. (This designation by the International Agency for Cancer Research is reserved for substances for which there is sufficient evidence to conclude that they cause cancer in humans.) The amounts of terpenes that were converted into these pollutants was dependent on the amount of ozone present.

After completing their chemical analyses, the researchers ran a series of 18 experiments to determine the levels of exposure people might be subjected to when using the products in a confined space. The tests were conducted in a 230-square-foot room with ventilation at an ordinary level which provided approximately one air change every two hours. In some tests of terpene-containing products, ozone was introduced into the room at levels mimicking those that could occur in households or of
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Source:University of California - Berkeley


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