Household aerosols such as air fresheners, deodorants and furniture polish have overtaken cars as a source of smog polluting chemicals in the UK, a new study has found.
It has led to scientists urging people to swap these products for the likes of roll-on deodorant and hair gel – as small changes can lead to large changes in air quality.
Researchers looked into the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – the chemicals found in aerosol sprays – which are less damaging than chlorofluorocarbons that they replaced in the 1980s.
However, these chemicals can cause photochemical smog when combined with nitrogen oxide in sunlight.
While vehicles were responsible for most VOC emissions into the 2000s, scientists found that the use of catalytic converters on vehicles and fuel vapour recovery at filling stations has led to a rapid decline.
In contrast, the global amount of VOCs emitted from aerosols every year is rising as lower and middle-income economies grow and people in these countries increase their consumption.
Currently, VOCs are used in around 93% of all aerosols, the study said.
More on Pollution
- Abandoned fishing nets in Thailand’s oceans are being transformed into COVID-19 protective gear
- Campaigners find plastic waste from the UK dumped as far away as Turkey
- Climate: UK is ‘struggling to meet its targets and should ‘look at the US’ for guidance, ex UN negotiator says
- Climate change: Global CO2 emissions bounce back to pre-COVID levels, International Energy Agency study finds
- UN report warns governments ‘nowhere close’ to climate targets
- Climate change: Earth ‘broken’ by ‘senseless and suicidal war on nature’, UN warns
Researchers are now calling for the use of less damaging nitrogen as a propellant, as well as a wider awareness of how polluting VOCs can be.
The paper, published in Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, revealed that the world’s population now uses more than 25 billion cans per year – which is estimated to lead to the release of 1.3 million tonnes of VOC air pollution annually.
This could rise to 2.2 million tonnes of VOC air by 2050 – leading to calls for people to switch products.
Professor Alastair Lewis, a director of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science in Leeds, said: “Virtually all aerosol-based consumer products can be delivered in non-aerosol form, for example as dry or roll-on deodorants, bars of polish not spray.
“Making just small changes in what we buy could have a major impact on both outdoor and indoor air quality, and have relatively little impact on our lives.”
“Given the contribution of VOCs to ground-level pollution, international policy revision is required and the continued support of VOCs as a preferred replacement for halocarbons is potentially not sustainable for aerosol products longer term,” he added.
- 15 awesome flying taxis and cars currently in development
- ‘Bhopal, Chernobyl, Rouen?’ Outrage Grows as French Chemical Fire Pumps 5,000t of Smog Into Air
- The deadly truth about a world built for men – from stab vests to car crashes
- California’s droughts hurt fight against climate change. Study tells us why
- Chevy Bolt EV Hands-On: Apparently, Electric Cars Don’t Suck Anymore
- More car use during pregnancy can put unborn babies at risk
- Self-Injury: 4 Reasons People Cut and What to Do
- On the minimum wage one thing is clear: you get what you pay for
- Military Deployment Stress Seeps to Children
- Vaping is a 'bad alternative' to quitting smoking, says European health body as it warns non-smokers are taking up e-cigarettes at an 'alarming' rate
Household aerosols now release more harmful smog chemicals than cars, study finds have 573 words, post on news.sky.com at April 30, 2021. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.