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Study Finds Less VOCs in ‘Green,’ Fragrance-Free Cleaning Products

VOCs have been associated with respiratory problems, cancer, and other health issues.

September 18, 2023

A study recently published by international journal Chemosphere on ScienceDirect.com has found that cleaning products noted as “green” and/or lacking fragrance had less volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than other types of cleaning products.

According to the report, VOCs have been previously investigated as the cause of respiratory problems and have also been associated with other health issues, including cancer, neurotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity. The report also noted another study in 2016, which found that fragranced products in particular were the cause of self-reported health issues in almost 35% of the general U.S. population.

The greatest risk of adverse, long-term health effects due to the use of cleaning products, the report said, was observed in those highly exposed to the products, in particular, professional cleaning staff in commercial and residential settings. Studies in 2016 and 2018, respectively, found an increased risk of lung cancer in women employed as cleaners, as well as increased risk of respiratory and cardiovascular death.

For the most recent study, the examiners tested 30 products overall, including 14 conventional products, nine “green” products with fragrance, and seven “green” products without fragrance. They generally observed greater total concentrations, total emission factors, and numbers of VOCs in the conventional cleaning products compared to the “green” products. This was even more the case when the researchers compared the conventional products to fragrance-free products.

The five products with the highest hazard indices were conventional products that had emissions of 2-butoxyethanol, isopropanol, toluene, and chloroform.

Overall, the study suggested that the use of “green” cleaning products, especially those without fragrance, could reduce exposure to VOC emissions.

Read more on study’s findings by clicking here. For more ways to reduce VOCs in your facility, check out Improve Facility Safety by Lessening the Effects of VOCs on Lighting and VOCs and Indoor Air Quality.

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