Keeping the Air we Breathe Safer
Steve Teasdale, InnuScience co-Founder and Vice-President of Scientific Affairs, explains the link between cleaning products and indoor air quality (IAQ).
Responsible manufacturers of cleaning and associated products are typically guided by two core principles: ensuring the environment remains free of harmful chemicals; and ensuring people (including professional cleaners, employees of their client companies, customers and the general public within the context of the commercial cleaning market), remain safe.
One area that has been causing concern during the last decades is the quality of the indoor air we breathe; with some countries in Europe (and notably in Scandinavia) legislating to keep potentially harmful additives out of cleaning product formulations.
Research has identified fragrances commonly used in cleaning products as being particularly problematic as they frequently release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into enclosed environments over time.
VOCs: what you need to know
VOCs are volatile compounds that are responsible for deteriorating IAQ and blamed for 'sick building syndrome'. In addition, some of them have a negative impact on the ozone layer.
These compounds are present in many cleaning products and they take only seconds to enter the user’s system.
VOCs can cause discomfort among users of cleaning products, and produce symptoms such as eye irritation, allergic skin irritation, headaches, runny nose, fatigue and more. Some VOCs can cause liver and kidney damage, while some are suspected or known to cause cancer.
In cleaning products, VOCs come primarily from fragrances and solvents used to solubilize greasy deposits.
Fragrances are often used to excess. They are used to mask unpleasant odors that arise after using ineffective cleaning products.
Alternative cleaning products
Several manufacturers now offer products formulated with zero, or low VOC-emitting components.
By combining biotechnological ingredients with green chemicals to increase cleaning performance, manufacturers do not need to use solvents, and can usually eliminate fragrances or use them in the lowest concentrations possible.
COVID-19: cleaning products under the spotlight
The current pandemic is highlighting the importance of IAQ, as well as outdoor air quality; with associations already been made between COVID-19 disease and long term effects on the lung performance of survivors.
With lockdowns across the world heightening public awareness of the impact of VOCs from vehicle pollution on the environment, calls too eliminate volatile compounds from every sphere of our lives will only accelerate over time.