VOCs health risk assessment studies since the 80s
While outdoor pollution has always attracted the interest of researchers, indoor pollution was not the subject of in-depth studies until the second half of the 1980s. It was time to take an interest, because in urban areas, we spend more than 80% of our time indoors (at home, at work, in the car, at school…), breathing many pollutants specific to closed spaces.
- Generally speaking, the sources of indoor pollution comes from our domestic activities: smoking, housework, DIY
- building materials: floor coverings, paints, insulation materials…
- the use of home equipment: heating appliances, hot water production, air conditioning…
- Some of the indoor pollution comes directly from the outside air: pollens, carbon monoxide…
Volatile Organic Compounds, household products are recognized as pollutants
To give you some examples, household products do emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are molecules in gaseous form recognized as polluting (National Agency for Health Safety). Reconstituted wood and plywood flooring emit formaldehyde, one of the most toxic VOCs. Biological compounds (dust mites, animal hair) nestled in our textiles and chemical particles from cooking and heating appliances create dust, also responsible for the degradation of indoor air quality.
Some of these pollutants appear at higher concentrations in indoor air than in outdoor air the question is whether they are dangerous !
The objective: correlate indoor air quality and breathing
Whether initiated by the Air Quality Observatory, the World Health Organization, the National Health Safety Agency and many others, studies and assessment tests all seek to find causal relationships between indoor pollution in our homes and respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive bronchopathologies (reduced respiratory capacity) or lung cancer.
In this context, the most common studies are epidemiological studies. They are based on the analysis of compounds present directly in the homes of people monitored (installation of sensors), but also by inventory of usual sources of indoor pollution and questionnaires to know habits and evaluate the time spent daily in their homes.
VOC Health Assessment: Difficult Tests to Conduct
Overall, these indoor air quality studies are difficult to conduct. It is a question of quantifying the pollutants, the duration of exposure of a person and correlating these data to his respiratory health. The groups tested are always from the same environment, therefore exposed to the same sources of external pollution.
VOCs risk assessment tests: those most affected at home
The synthesis “Air pollution and lung – Epidemiological approach” proposed by Inserm (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale) highlights the health risks of VOCs and other indoor air pollutants. Generally speaking, the synthesis lists the sources of indoor pollution and the effects observed on breathing, ranging from simple irritation to more serious infections or cancer. There is for example the link between :
- environmental tobacco (link to tobacco effect) and cancer.
- burning cooking appliances and impaired breathing functions for people regularly in the kitchen.
- VOC emissions from household cleaning products and asthma. This disease would more regularly affect persons called “at home” and in charge of the household.
VOCs health risk assessment: indoor pollution ranked 10th risk factor
- Generally speaking, the studies carried out over the last twenty years on the theme of indoor air pollution show that :indoor air pollution increases the risk of irritation, allergies and symptoms of chronic respiratory diseases.
- 1.5 to 2 million deaths per year worldwide can be attributed to indoor air pollution (minimum estimates).
- Indoor air pollution is ranked 10th in the world as a risk factor for death.
- Poor and developing countries are the most affected by indoor air pollution, because household products and kitchen appliances are less standardized (use of more toxic fuels, such as fuel oil, coal, little awareness of good practices and risks related to VOC emissions, etc.).
- Still on a global scale, women are more affected by indoor air pollution than men.
An ecological air purifier to keep your home healthy
In France, our interiors benefit from materials and equipment that are increasingly monitored and standardized in terms of their emission of pollutants. Nevertheless, our household products still emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Our home equipment creates potentially toxic dust. Worse still, some air fresheners and air fresheners pollute even as they are sold to clean the air in your home. In this context, do not hesitate to use our air purifier. It is based on activated carbon and acetoacetamide, two anti-pollutants used to capture VOCs. You can use it to improve air quality in your home or car.