Some chemicals found in cleaning products, often used when mopping floors, contain tiny particles that can trigger a reaction from the outdoor pollutant ozone and create hazardous airborne particles that can lead to air pollution and health hazards.

A Significant New Discovery

In a new study published in the journal Science Advances on Friday, Feb. 25, researchers found that the usage of commercial disinfectants on cleaning products when mopping or conducting surface cleaning can indirectly lead to air pollution.

The study says the air pollution generated by the chemicals, including citrus or pine-scented solvents from cleaning products is equivalent to the airborne particles produced by fuel-based vehicles in the busy city streets.

The study also suggested that professional cleaners also face health risks due to their frequent exposure to the cleaning product’s suspended airborne particles, known as aerosols.

The unprecedented discovery highlights that air quality is not only risky outdoors but also in indoor settings.

Also read: Air Pollution Causes 7 Million Deaths Yearly, Prompting WHO to Strengthen Guidelines

Indoor Air Quality
The release of potentially harmful airborne particles from mopping indoors is truly surprising since it generates a similar rate of produced outdoor pollutants in a busy and traffic city street, according to Nicola Carslaw, an indoor air pollution investigator at the University of York, cited by Science.

Experts estimate indoor air quality in some settings, notably houses, schools, and officers, can sometimes be dirtier due to hazardous particles than outdoor air quality.

Furthermore, they suggested that health authorities, including occupational safety and health officials, should focus on the study.

Although there have been previous studies that chemicals and solvents from cleaning products can create harmful pollutants, the new study is the first to record the specific processes on how mopping can indirectly cause air pollution through the interaction of certain chemicals indoors and outdoors.

Ground-Level Ozone and Upper Atmosphere Ozone
In the study, researchers focused on the limonene chemical found in mopping cleaning products used on floor surfaces indoors and the chemical’s interaction with surface ozone, an outdoor air pollutant.

The interaction allows ozone to produce other harmful airborne particles.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are two types of ozone: upper atmosphere ozone and ground-level ozone.

Ozone in both areas are still in the form of gas but differ in their effects on people, animals, and the environment.

The EPA defines ozone found in the upper atmosphere as ‘good’ since the gas creates a protective barrier that shields Earth from the ultraviolet rays of the Sun.

This barrier is also known as the ozone layer, which has already been damaged due to human-driven chemicals.

Moreover, the EPA considers ground-level ozone as a ‘bad’ one since it is a harmful air pollutant and is the main ingredient for smog.

Ozone in our surface is not like its upper atmosphere counterpart since it creates hazardous airborne particles when interacting with limonene and other similar chemicals.

According to the World Air Quality Index (AQI) ranking site, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan; followed by Lahore, Pakistan, and Wuhan, China, are the cities to have the highest number air quality indexes, which indicate the level of air pollutants or harmful airborne particles.

Source: Nature World News

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