Do you know that the “nice” detergent fragrance may be harmful to your health and comfort?

Indoor Air Cartoon Journal, October 2019, Volume 2, #79

The laundry room should be designed to be well-ventilated. The privacy and safety of building occupants should be considered in the design. Otherwise, building occupants may not maximize the benefit inherent in the ventilation. Having laundry to be well ventilated is a necessity because of the emissions of the various harmful volatile organic compounds. Acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, and benzene that are carcinogenic are part of the VOCs. VOCs are also known to cause sensory irritations and discomfort.

It is not uncommon for building occupants to close their windows when washing clothes. Washing of clothes at night with windows closed is very common among building occupants because of the concerns for safety and intrusion of insects.  The fears of neigbour visual intrusions is another concern that makes building occupants close their window at night, even during the day. Some laundry rooms do not have windows or a source of ventilation.

The lack of ventilation will increase the age of air in the laundry room, causing the concentrations of the VOCs to increase. The higher resident time of the pollutants due to low or no ventilation will make them available in high concentration for indoor chemistry. The chemical reactions of pollutants in the indoor air produce more harmful chemicals, even some that were not in the building initially. The lack of or little air movement in a laundry room would further increase indoor pollutant concentrations.

Unfortunately, most people find the inhaled VOCs to have a “nice” fragrance without knowing the danger they pose. This week’s issue aims to create awareness so that building occupants could take caution when buying or using detergents. Building designers will also have the opportunity to appreciate how a poorly designed laundry room could increase the vulnerability of building occupants to the inhalation of harmful chemicals.

79. Detergent_79

Do you want to know more about this topic? Read McCready et al. (2012) and Steinemann et al. (2013) papers.


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