From your kitchen cleaner to your bathroom air fresheners, you probably think going green means making a healthier choice for you and your family, but a new study from the University of Melbourne in Australia reveals the truth about natural household cleaners and other products: that they give off just as many hazardous air pollutants as the regular ones.
A team of researchers looked at nearly 40 different products ranging from laundry supplies to personal care products—many of which were labeled ‘non-toxic’ and ‘organic’—and discovered that all of them are potentially harmful to human health because of the volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) they release into the air, regardless of whether or not they were fragranced.
In all, they determined that more than 500 volatile ingredients (and over 150 VOCs, including hazardous terpenes) were released by the products in the study, and over 40 of those ingredients are currently classified as toxic or hazardous in the United States. However, fewer than 3% percent of were actually listed on the label, say study authors.
A big concern, according to lead author Anne Steinemann, is that indoor air exposure is such a significant source of pollutants, but most people are unaware of the dangers in their household environments. Not only that, but consumers often choose green or natural products because they think they’re safer, when really “…those claims are largely untested.” Steinemann is among the foremost experts on environmental pollutants and their effects on air quality and human health.
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Electronic cigarette users seem to be everywhere you look these days—in restaurants, at sporting events, even beside you in the grocery store aisle. Yet, despite a growing number of studies pointing to the potential dangers of vaping, e-cigarette use continues to go unregulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Here are three new studies that may soon encourage the FDA to change its tune.
In 2014 More Teens Used E-cigs Over Tobacco
According to the government-sponsored Monitoring the Future survey, which looks at substance abuse among U.S. teenagers, 2014 marked the first year that e-cigarette use surpassed the use of regular cigarettes among 8th graders (8.7 percent vs. 4 percent), 10th graders (16.2 percent vs. 7.2 percent), and 12th graders (17.1 percent vs. 13.6) percent—prompting organizations like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to stress the need for regulation. Experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that nicotine use in any form is unsafe for children and teens and can affect healthy brain development.
E-cigarettes Harmful to Lung Health & Immune Function
In a recent study involving mice, researchers from the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins University determined that e-cig vapor triggered inflammation and caused damage to healthy lung tissue, making the mice more likely to develop respiratory infections. And, those that did develop an infection had a more difficult time recovering; some of the mice experienced significant weight loss and even death. Small amounts of free radicals, which can attack and damage healthy cells, were also noted.
Flavor Chemicals in E-cigs May Be Toxic
Similar to the Johns Hopkins study, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York found that the inhalation of flavored liquids called “e-juices” (used to enhance the vaping experience) may cause significant damage to healthy lung tissue. The URMC study also involved mice and revealed that the vapors are especially toxic when applied directly to the heating element of the electronic cigarette. “We were the first to discover that ‘dripping’ of e-juices onto the heating element generates free radicals and oxidative stress that leads to lung damage,” said lead author Dr. Irfan Rahman.