For decades, the focus on the source of outdoor air pollution has been on emissions from burning fuel from automobiles and factories.
But a new study shows “In urban areas, emissions from consumer goods such as paint, cleaning supplies and personal care products now contribute as much to ozone and fine particulate matter in the atmosphere as do emissions from burning gasoline or diesel fuel.”
Apparently programs to reduce pollution from car exhaust has been so successful that researchers are now able to see the impacts of other sources.
The study focused on VOCs that are derived from petroleum. Some VOCs can be harmful when directly inhaled, but they can also react with other molecules in the air to create ozone and other components of smog.
“15 times as much oil and natural gas is used as fuel than ends up in consumer products ranging from soaps, shampoos and deodorants to air fresheners, glues and cleaning sprays. And yet these everyday products were responsible for 38 percent of the VOC emissions, the researchers found, while gasoline and diesel emissions accounted for only 33 percent.”