Some household products emit unhealthy levels of ozone, study finds

Research concludes further action is needed such as standards, regulations

Posted June 29, 2016

A number of consumer products and home appliances, none of which are tested or regulated for ozone emissions, emit enough ozone to pose potential health risks to their users, a new California Air Resources Board (CARB) study has found.

The study, “Evaluation of Ozone Emissions and Exposures from Consumer Products and Home Appliances,” highlights a gap in consumer protection. The paper was published online in the journal “Indoor Air.”

The CARB study measured ozone emissions and impacts on indoor ozone levels and associated exposures from 17 consumer products and home appliances that emit ozone either intentionally or as a by-product of their functions. In all, five products in three categories emitted ozone at levels that may result in potential health effects.

The five products included:

  • A residential ozone laundry water treatment appliance,
  • Two fruit and vegetable washers, and
  • Two facial steamers.

Due to its strong oxidative ability, ozone is widely advertised for disinfection or odor removal by manufacturers.

The use of some products was estimated to contribute up to 87 percent of total daily exposures to ozone. For some products, one use does not increase room ozone concentrations markedly, but repeated use can result in high exposure concentrations.

While many consumer products and home appliances can emit ozone, ozone emissions have only been regulated for air cleaners. Ozone generators — purported air cleaners that intentionally produce ozone and are marketed as producing “safe” levels of activated oxygen that remove indoor air pollutants — and other types of air cleaners, such as some ionizers and electrostatic precipitators, have been found to increase indoor ozone concentrations to harmful levels.

The recent CARB study concluded that further research and actions, such as product design changes, development of industry standards, and/or regulations limiting ozone emissions from these other types of products, appear to be needed.

Ground level ozone, a key ingredient of smog, is a harmful air pollutant that can cause serious health effects and environmental impacts. These include respiratory problems such as increased asthma symptoms, and even premature death, as well as crop and forest damage. The use of some of the products tested can contribute a significant fraction of total daily exposure to ozone.

For a fact sheet on results of the study on ozone emissions from consumer products and home appliances, visit here

 


 

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