Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 273–281

Volatile emissions from common consumer products

Authors

    • Civil Engineering, Sustainable Cities, Department of Infrastructure Engineering, Melbourne School of EngineeringThe University of Melbourne
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11869-015-0327-6

Cite this article as:
Steinemann, A. Air Qual Atmos Health (2015) 8: 273. doi:10.1007/s11869-015-0327-6

Abstract

Consumer products emit a range of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can affect air quality and health. Risk reduction is hindered because of lack of information about specific product emissions. This study investigates and compares VOCs emitted from 37 common products (air fresheners, laundry products, cleaners, and personal care products), including those with certifications and claims of green and organic. It extends a prior study of 25 consumer products by adding 12 more products, including fragrance-free versions of fragranced products, representing the first such comparison in the scientific literature. This study found 156 different VOCs emitted from the 37 products, with an average of 15 VOCs per product. Of these 156 VOCs, 42 VOCs are classified as toxic or hazardous under US federal laws, and each product emitted at least one of these chemicals. Emissions of carcinogenic hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from green fragranced products were not significantly different from regular fragranced products. The most common chemicals in fragranced products were terpenes, which were not in fragrance-free versions. Of the volatile ingredients emitted, fewer than 3 % were disclosed on any product label or material safety data sheet (MSDS). Because health effects depend on many factors, not only individual ingredients, this study makes no claims regarding possible risks. However, knowledge of product composition can be an important step to understand, assess, and reduce potential exposures and effects.

Keywords

Consumer productsVOC emissionsFragranceFragrance freeGreen

Background

In the USA and other countries, consumer products represent a major source of human exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (e.g., Wallace 2001; Edwards et al. 2006) and indoor air pollutants (Weisel 2002; Geiss et al. 2011; Sarigiannis et al. 2011; Wallace 1991). Fragranced products, for instance, emit terpenes such as limonene and α-pinene (Steinemann et al. 2011; Wallace et al. 1991), which dominate VOC concentrations found indoors (Maisey et al. 2013; Geiss et al. 2011). Terpenes react with ozone to generate a range of secondary pollutants including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, secondary organic aerosols, and ultrafine particles (Rossignol et al. 2013; Nazaroff and Weschler 2004; Singer et al. 2006). Consumer product VOCs from indoor sources can also migrate outdoors, affecting ambient air quality (e.g., Steinemann et al. 2013; Chen and Luo 2012).

Efforts to reduce VOC exposures from consumer products have been impaired by lack of product ingredient information. Manufacturers are not required to disclose all ingredients in a product or any ingredients in a chemical mixture called fragrance (Steinemann 2009). Given lack of information, consumers may turn to products with claims such as green, natural, or organic, but those claims are largely unregulated and untested (Scruggs and Ortolano 2011; Dahl 2010). Consumers also may also turn to popular product evaluation guides (e.g., GoodGuide 2014; EWG Environmental Working Group 2014a; b), but these guides often rely solely on disclosed information for their assessments, without analyzing product contents. Similarly, risk and exposure assessments often depend on accurate and complete ingredient information, but product databases typically contain only listed ingredients (Mitchell et al. 2013; Goldsmith et al. 2014).

This article reports and compares volatile emissions among a range of consumer product types (air fresheners, laundry products, cleaners, and personal care products) and different product categories (fragranced, fragrance free, green, and regular). It incorporates and builds upon the work of Steinemann et al. (2011), which analyzed 25 fragranced consumer products, by including an additional set of products (12 more) to represent a greater diversity of product types and categories, including 6 products with certifications or claims of green and organic and 6 fragrance-free products (a new category), which offers four matched pairs of the same brands of fragranced and fragrance-free laundry products. In addition, this article identifies and compares VOCs classified as toxic or hazardous under US federal laws among these four product categories and examines differences between VOCs emitted and ingredients disclosed to the public.

Approach

Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) headspace analysis was used to identify VOCs emitted from 37 products, representing four types and four categories (Table 1): types are 9 air fresheners (sprays, gels, solids, oils, and disks), 11 laundry products (detergents, dryer sheets, and fabric softeners), 7 cleaners (household and industrial cleaning products, disinfectants, and dish detergent), and 10 personal care products (soaps, hand sanitizers, lotions, deodorants, shampoo, and baby shampoo); categories are 7 green, 20 regular, 31 fragranced, and 6 fragrance-free.
Table 1

Products tested by type and category

 

Air fresheners

Laundry products

Cleaners

Personal care products

Fragranced

9 (8 + 1)

5 (4 + 1)

7 (4 + 3)

10 (9 + 1)

Fragrance free

0

6 (0 + 6)

0

0

Green

6 (6 + 0)

2 (0 + 2)

4 (1 + 3)

5 (4 + 1)

Regular

3 (2 + 1)

9 (4 + 5)

3 (3 + 0)

5 (5 + 0)

Total number of products tested in each category; in parenthesis, the first number refers to distribution of 25 products from Steinemann et al. (2011) and the second number to additional 12 products. Of the fragranced products, 15 are regular and 16 are green. Of the fragrance-free products, two are regular and four are green.

“Green” products are defined, for this study, as those that make a claim such as green, “organic,” “nontoxic,” “environmentally friendly,” “essential oils,” or “natural” on their product label or material safety data sheet (MSDS). The analysis of green products included those with claims of “green certified” (e.g., Green Seal 2014) or ingredients that are “certified organic.” “Regular” products are those other than in the green category.

“Fragranced” products are defined, for this study, as those with an added or intentional fragrance or scent. A “fragrance” is typically a mixture of several dozen to several hundred chemicals, with an estimated 80–90 % synthetically derived (Somogyi et al. 1998). “Fragrance-free” products are defined as those claiming to be without a fragrance.

Products were selected that are commonly used in the USA and other countries by individuals, households, industries (e.g., workplaces, hotels, restaurants, stores), institutions (e.g., schools, hospitals, homeless shelters), and in other environments (e.g., apartment buildings, parks, child care and elder care facilities, government buildings, airplanes, and public transportation).

A regulatory analysis determined VOCs classified as toxic or hazardous under one or more US federal laws. The objective was to identify compounds that are currently regulated, based on toxicity concerns, and thus could warrant attention and further study. This analysis does not imply that these compounds are the only ingredients with potential toxicities, that they are toxic as found in the products, or that individual chemicals alone determine overall product toxicity, which depends on other factors such as concentrations and interactions among chemicals in mixtures.

In prior studies that investigated VOC emissions from fragranced consumer products (e.g., Wallace et al. 1991; Cooper et al. 1992; Steinemann et al. 2011; Jo et al. 2008), limonene was the most commonly found VOC, along with β-pinene, α-pinene, ethanol, acetone, and acetaldehyde. This present study differs from a previous work that analyzed fragranced consumer products but that looked at only certain VOCs rather than the full suite (e.g., Dodson et al. 2012; Rastogi et al. 2001), that analyzed one product type or category (e.g., Jo et al. 2008), that did not distinguish whether products were fragranced (Kwon et al. 2007; Sack et al. 1992), that analyzed fragranced but not fragrance-free versions (Steinemann et al. 2011) or green products (Wallace et al. 1991; Cooper et al. 1992), or that composited samples and consolidated results among products (e.g., Dodson et al. 2012), thus limiting knowledge of individual product emissions and comparisons with ingredients disclosed.

Ingredients in consumer products, and in fragrance formulations, are exempt from full disclosure to the public (see regulatory details in Steinemann 2009; Steinemann and Walsh 2007). For laundry products, cleaning supplies, and air fresheners, regulated under the US Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), labels do not need to list all ingredients or the presence of a fragrance in the product. For personal care products, regulated under the US Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), labels need to list ingredients, except that the general term fragrance may be used instead of listing the individual ingredients in the fragrance. For all products, MSDSs, under the US Occupational Safety and Health Act, do not need to list all ingredients. Fragrance ingredients are exempt from full disclosure in any product, not only in the USA but also internationally.

Analysis and results

Consumer products were analyzed using headspace GC/MS, following US EPA Compendium Method TO-15 ((EPA) Environmental Protection Agency 1999). For each product, the top 20 peaks from the sample chromatogram were identified, as detailed in Steinemann et al. (2011), using mass spectral library matches. This article reports only VOCs with headspace concentrations of greater than 100 μg/m3, to ensure that they are definitive ingredients emitted from the products.

This study generated voluminous amounts of data, which can be analyzed and displayed in many different ways. This article will focus on the key dimensions and salient results. Complete data on VOCs identified and headspace concentrations, including designations of product types and categories, are provided as Supplementary Table 1 (available on-line).1

VOCs emitted

A summary of VOCs emitted according to product category is provided in Table 2. The term “occurrences” refers to the number of individual VOC peaks detected among the products; thus, each occurrence represents an ingredient in a product. The term “unique” refers to the number of unique VOCs; thus, each unique VOC represents a specific chemical ingredient found in one or more products. Table 3 lists compounds in at least 33 % of all the products in their respective categories.
Table 2

VOCs by product category

Product category

Number of products

All VOCs

Toxic/hazardous VOCs

Carcinogenic VOCs

All products

37

559 occurrences

156 unique

230 occurrences

42 unique

23 occurrences

4 unique

Fragranced

31

511 occurrences

144 unique

196 occurrences

35 unique

17 occurrences

4 unique

Fragrance free

6

48 occurrences

31 unique

34 occurrences

20 unique

6 occurrences

2 unique

Green

17

279 occurrences

102 unique

111 occurrences

28 unique

8 occurrences

3 unique

Regular

20

280 occurrences

108 unique

119 unique

32 unique

15 occurrences

3 unique

Table 3

All products (n = 37): common compounds

Compound

CAS #

Prevalence (# of products)

Ethanol

64-17-5

29

d-Limonene

138-86-3

28

β-Pinene

127-91-3

25

α-Pinene

80-56-8

23

Acetone

67-64-1

20

Acetaldehydea

75-07-0

15

2,4-Dimethyl-3-cyclohexene-1-carboxaldehyde (Triplal 1)

68039-49-6

14

Carene isomer

e.g., 13466-78-9

13

o-, m-, or p-cymene

527-84-4, 535-77-3, or 99-87-6

13

Benzyl acetate

140-11-4

12

Methanol

67-56-1

12

α-Terpinene

99-86-5

11

Camphene

79-92-5

11

β-Phellandrene

555-10-2

9

Butane

106-97-8

9

Ethyl butanoate

105-54-4

9

γ-Terpinene

99-85-4

9

Isopropyl alcohol

67-63-0

9

Fragranced products (n = 31): common compounds

d-Limonene

138-86-3

28

 β-Pinene

127-91-3

25

α-Pinene

80-56-8

23

Ethanol

64-17-5

23

Acetone

67-64-1

18

 2,4-Dimethyl-3-cyclohexene-1-carboxaldehyde (Triplal 1)

68039-49-6

14

 Carene isomer

e.g., 13466-78-9

13

o-, m-, or p-cymene

527-84-4, 535-77-3, or 99-87-6

13

 Benzyl acetate

140-11-4

12

Acetaldehydea

75-07-0

11

 α-Terpinene

99-86-5

11

 Camphene

79-92-5

11

Fragrance-free products (n = 6): common compounds

Ethanol

64-17-5

6

Acetaldehydea

75-07-0

4

Methanol

67-56-1

4

 Undecane

1120-21-4

3

1,4-Dioxanea

123-91-1

2

 2-Methoxy propane

598-53-8

2

2-Methyl-2-propanol (t-butyl alcohol)

75-65-0

2

Acetone

67-64-1

2

Green products (n = 17): common compounds

d-Limonene

138-86-3

14

Acetone

67-64-1

13

 β-Pinene

127-91-3

12

Ethanol

64-17-5

11

α-Pinene

80-56-8

11

 2,4-Dimethyl-3-cyclohexene-1-carboxaldehyde (Triplal 1)

68039-49-6

8

 Carene isomer

e.g., 13466-78-9

8

o-, m-, or p-cymene

527-84-4, 535-77-3, or 99-87-6

8

 Benzyl acetate

140-11-4

7

Butane

106-97-8

7

Camphor

76-22-2

7

Methanol

67-56-1

7

 Camphene

79-92-5

6

 Ethyl butanoate

105-54-4

6

 γ-Terpinene

99-85-4

6

Isopropyl alcohol

67-63-0

6

Regular products (n = 20): common compounds

Ethanol

64-17-5

18

d-Limonene

138-86-3

14

 β-Pinene

127-91-3

13

α-Pinene

80-56-8

12

Acetaldehydea

75-07-0

11

Acetone

67-64-1

7

 α-Terpinene

99-86-5

7

“Common compounds” are found in >33 % of products in category. Compounds classified as toxic or hazardous under federal laws are italicized

aClassified as probable carcinogen by (EPA) Environmental Protection Agency (2007)

Table 4

All products (n = 37): compounds regulated as toxic or hazardous

Compound

CAS #

Prevalence (# of products)

CAA-TFS

CAA-HAP

CERCLA

CWA

EPCRA

FIFRA

OSH ACT

RCRA

Ethanol

64-17-5

29

     

 

d-Limonene

138-86-3

28

     

  

α-Pinene

80-56-8

23

     

  

Acetone

67-64-1

20

  

  

Acetaldehydea

75-07-0

15

 

Methanol

67-56-1

12

 

 

Butane

106-97-8

9

       

Isopropyl alcohol

67-63-0

9

    

 

Camphor

76-22-2

8

     

 

Linalool

78-70-6

7

     

  

1-Butanol, 3-methyl-, acetate

123-92-2

6

  

  

 

2-Methyl-2-propanol

75-65-0

6

    

 

1,4-Dioxanea

123-91-1

5

 

 

 

2-Butanone

78-93-3

5

 

 

 

Carbonyl sulfide

463-58-1

5

 

   

Ethyl acetate

141-78-6

5

  

  

Cyclohexane

110-82-7

3

  

 

n,n-Dimethyl acetamide

127-19-5

3

      

 

Pentane

109-66-0

3

    

 

2-Butoxyethanol

111-76-2

2

     

 

5-Methyl-3-heptanone

541-85-5

2

      

 

Chloromethane

74-87-3

2

 

Cumene

98-82-8

2

 

 

 

Formaldehydea

50-00-0

2

Propene, 2-methyl-

115-11-7

2

       

1-Propanol

71-23-8

1

     

 

Acetic acid, butyl ester

123-86-4

1

  

  

 

Benzaldehyde

100-52-7

1

     

  

Butanal

123-72-8

1

    

   

Carbon disulfide

75-15-0

1

Chloroethane

75-00-3

1

 

 

Dimethyl ether

115-10-6

1

       

E-2-butene

624-64-6

1

       

Ethyl ether

60-29-7

1

 

   

Ethyl formate

109-94-4

1

     

 

Heptane

142-82-5

1

      

 

Hexane

110-54-3

1

 

 

 

 

Isobutane

75-28-5

1

       

Methyl acetate

79-20-9

1

      

 

Methylene chloridea

75-09-2

1

 

Octane

111-65-9

1

      

 

Propane

74-98-6

1

     

 

Legend for Table 4 and Supplementary Tables 2, 3, 4, and 5:

CAA-TFS Clean Air Act—Toxic and Flammable Substances for Accidental Release Prevention, CAA-HAP Clean Air Act—Hazardous Air Pollutant, CERCLA Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act—Hazardous Substance, CWA Clean Water Act—Priority Pollutant, EPCRA The Emergency Planning & Community Right to Know Act—Toxic Release Inventory Chemical, FIFRA Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act—Registered Pesticide, OSH Act Occupational Safety and Health Act—Air Contaminants, RCRA Resource Conservation and Recovery Act—Hazardous Constituents. Compounds classified as toxic or hazardous under federal laws are italicized

aClassified as probable carcinogen by (EPA) Environmental Protection Agency (2007)

Table 5

Comparison of fragranced and fragrance-free versions of regular laundry product brands

Compound

CAS #

Fragranced

Fragrance free

Laundry products (#1 and #29)

2-Butanone (methyl ethyl ketone)

78-93-3

x

x

Ethanol

64-17-5

x

x

 2,4-Dimethyl-3-cyclohexene-1-carboxaldehyde (Triplal 1)

68039-49-6

x

 

 6-Methyl-5-hepten-2-one

110-93-0

x

 

Acetaldehydea

75-07-0

 

x

 α-Fenchene

471-84-1

x

 

 α-Phellandrene

99-83-2

x

 

α-Pinene

80-56-8

x

 

 α-Terpinene

99-86-5

x

 

 α-Terpinolene

586-62-9

x

 

 β-Phellandrene

555-10-2

x

 

 β-Pinene

127-91-3

x

 

 Camphene

79-92-5

x

 

d-Limonene

138-86-3

x

 

 γ-Terpinene

99-85-4

x

 

 Isocineole

470-67-7

x

 

n,n-Dimethyl acetamide

127-19-5

x

 

o-, m-, or p-cymene

527-84-4, 535-77-3, or 99-87-6

x

 

 Tetrahydro-2,2-dimethyl-5-(1-methyl-1-propenyl) furan

7416-35-5

x

 

 Undecane

1120-21-4

 

x

Laundry products (#2 and #26)

   

1,4-Dioxanea

123-91-1

x

x

2-Methyl-2-propanol (t-butyl alcohol)

75-65-0

x

x

 Dodecane

112-40-3

x

x

Ethanol

64-17-5

x

x

 Undecane

1120-21-4

x

x

 1,3-Dioxan-5-ol

4740-78-7

 

x

 1-Methyl-3-(1-methylethyl)-cyclohexene

13828-31-4

x

 

 2,4-Dimethyl-3-cyclohexene-1-carboxaldehyde (Triplal 1)

68039-49-6

x

 

2-Butanone (methyl ethyl ketone)

78-93-3

x

 

 3,7-Dimethyl-1,6-octadiene

10281-56-8

x

 

acetaldehydea

75-07-0

 

x

α-Pinene

80-56-8

x

 

 α-Terpinene

99-86-5

x

 

 benzyl acetate

140-11-4

x

 

 β-Pinene

127-91-3

x

 

 β-Terpinene

99-84-3

x

 

 Carene isomer

e.g., 13466-78-9

x

 

Cumene

98-82-8

 

x

d-Limonene

138-86-3

x

 

Ethyl acetate

141-78-6

x

 

Ethyl ether

60-29-7

 

x

Methanol

67-56-1

 

x

Laundry products (#36 and #28)

Ethanol

64-17-5

x

x

Acetaldehydea

75-07-0

x

x

Methanol

67-56-1

x

x

d-Limonene

138-86-3

x

 

 2,7-Dimethyl-2,7-octanediol

19781-07-8

x

 

butane

106-97-8

x

 

 (Z)-2-(3,3-dimethylcyclohexylidene)ethanol

26532-23-0

x

 

acetone

67-64-1

x

 

 β-Pinene

127-91-3

x

 

Carbon disulfide

75-15-0

 

x

Carbonyl sulfide

463-58-1

x

 

Isopropyl alcohol

67-63-0

x

 

Laundry products (#4 and #27)

 2-Methoxy propane

598-53-8

x

x

Acetaldehydea

75-07-0

x

x

Chloromethane

74-87-3

x

x

 Diethoxy methane

462-95-3

x

x

Ethanol

64-17-5

x

x

 Methoxy ethane

540-67-0

x

x

 (Z)-3,4-dimethyl-3-hexen-2-one

20685-45-4

x

 

 1,5-Dimethyl-1,4-cyclohexadiene

4190-06-1

x

 

 1-Methyltricyclo[2.2.1.0(2,6)]-heptane

4601-85-8

x

 

 2,4-Dimethyl-1,3-cyclopentanedione

34598-80-6

x

 

2-Methyl-2-propanol (t-butyl alcohol)

75-65-0

 

x

 3-Methyl-2-buten-1-ol acetate (prenyl acetate)

1191-16-8

x

 

α-Pinene

80-56-8

x

 

 α-Terpinene

99-86-5

x

 

 α-Terpinolene

586-62-9

x

 

 benzyl acetate

140-11-4

x

 

 β-Pinene

127-91-3

x

 

Chloroethane

75-00-3

 

x

d-Limonene

138-86-3

x

 

Ethyl formate

109-94-4

 

x

 γ-Terpinene coeluted with 2,7-dimethyl-2,7-octanediol

99-85-4 and 19781-07-8

x

 

 Isocineole

470-67-7

x

 

Linalool

78-70-6

x

 

Compounds regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws are italicized

aClassified as probable carcinogen by (EPA) Environmental Protection Agency (2007)

All VOCs

Collectively, a total of 559 VOC occurrences were detected across the 37 consumer products, representing 156 unique VOCs. Headspace concentrations ranged from the minimum threshold value of 100 μg/m3 to a maximum value of over 2,600,000 μg/m3.

Most prevalent

Among all 37 products, the most prevalent VOCs (in at least 50 % of the products) were ethanol, d-limonene, β-pinene, and α-pinene (Table 3) (this article will use “most prevalent” to refer to “in at least 50 % of the products”).

Most prevalent among categories

In fragranced products, the most prevalent VOCs were d-limonene, β-pinene, α-pinene, ethanol, and acetone (Table 3), and the latter two were also found in fragrance-free products. In fragrance-free products, the most prevalent VOCs were ethanol, acetaldehyde, methanol, and undecane (Table 3), and all were also found in fragranced products. Comparing the most prevalent compounds in green and regular products, four out of five are the same (d-limonene, β-pinene, ethanol, and α-pinene) (Table 3).

Regulatory classifications

Of the 156 unique VOCs emitted from the 37 products, 42 unique VOCs are classified as toxic or hazardous under US federal laws (Tables 2 and 4). Each product emitted at least one of these potentially hazardous VOCs. About half of the products (19) emitted one or more carcinogenic hazardous air pollutants (1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and methylene chloride), which have no safe threshold of exposure, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency ((EPA) Environmental Protection Agency 1994; 2005; 2007).

Most prevalent classified as toxic or hazardous

Among the most prevalent VOCs in the products (found in at least half of the products), 80 % are classified as toxic or hazardous under US federal laws (Tables 3 and 4): ethanol, d-limonene, α-pinene, and acetone. In each of the four product categories, among the most prevalent VOCs (in more than half the products), between 75 and 80 % are classified as toxic or hazardous: acetaldehyde, ethanol, d-limonene, α-pinene, acetone, and methanol (see Table 3 and 4; Supplementary Tables 2, 3, 4, and 5).

Green products

Of the most prevalent VOCs, 80 % are the same between green and regular products, and of the most prevalent classified as toxic or hazardous, 75 % are the same between green and regular products (see Tables 3 and 4; Supplementary Tables 2, 3, 4, and 5). Of the 17 green products, seven emitted at least one carcinogenic hazardous air pollutant (HAP). Comparing the 17 green and 20 regular products, as well as the 15 green fragranced products and 16 regular fragranced products, no statistically significant difference (α = 0.05) was found between the relative numbers of products in each category that contained carcinogenic HAPs.

Fragranced and fragrance-free versions

This study investigated four specific brands of regular laundry products with both fragranced and fragrance-free versions (see Table 5). The primary difference between the fragranced and fragrance-free versions is the presence of terpenes (such as d-limonene, β-pinene, α-pinene) in the fragranced versions but not the fragrance-free versions.

Disclosure on labels and MSDSs

Among the 559 VOC occurrences, only 21 were listed on any product label or MSDS, 7 of which were repeated listings between labels and MSDSs, so 14 ingredients total were disclosed.2 Thus, fewer than 1 % of all ingredients in the products were listed on any product label, fewer than 2 % on any product MSDS, and fewer than 3 % in either location. Moreover, considering the 230 VOCs classified as toxic or hazardous, fewer than 6 % of these ingredients were disclosed on either the label or MSDS.3

In summary, ten products listed no ingredients on the product label and eight products listed no ingredients on the MSDS.4 In addition, 21 of the 31 fragranced products did not disclose the presence of a fragrance on either the label or the MSDS, or both.5 However, each product appears to be in compliance with their respective laws for disclosing (or not disclosing) ingredients (Steinemann 2009 provides a detailed analysis of relevant laws).

Limitations

This study did not seek to assess and makes no claims regarding potential health risks from products. In addition, the analysis focused on the identities of individual chemicals, yet potential product toxicity depends on other factors, such as mixtures of chemicals and concentrations. The GC/MS headspace analysis measured primary VOC emissions, directly from each product, which did not capture the generation of secondary pollutants.

Conclusions and discussion

This study provides striking findings concerning the range of VOCs emitted by common consumer products. Consumer products are a primary source of human exposure to VOCs, including hazardous air pollutants. However, consumers lack information about actual and complete product ingredients and emissions, given that most ingredients (over 97 % in this study) are not disclosed, and most potentially hazardous ingredients (over 94 % in this study) are also not disclosed.

Given lack of ingredient information, consumers may seek out products with claims and certifications of green or organic, in hopes to reduce potential risks. But, well-intentioned efforts could be hindered, because product claims can be misleading or unsubstantiated. Even, many product evaluation guides base their assessment solely on disclosed ingredients, reinforcing the problem of misinformation for consumers. Further, the disclosure of some chemicals, but not all chemicals, on product labels and MSDSs may lead consumers to presume that they are seeing all ingredients.

Future research directions and extensions include the following. A primary area is the analysis of potential health risks, whether through voluntary or involuntary exposures to products. Emission rates from each product could be measured in order to help estimate exposures and the contributions of individual products to overall air quality. This study focused on VOCs, but other types of product emissions can be analyzed, such as semi-VOCs and ultrafine particles. The analysis of chemicals could identify and explore differences between natural and synthetic compounds as used in products and fragrance formulations. Consumer products used indoors, such as laundry supplies, can affect outdoor air quality, such as through dryer vent emissions, and effects of different products on air quality could be investigated. In sum, common consumer products represent a significant but largely unregulated and understudied source of human exposure to VOCs, and thus, continued research could promote awareness and efforts among agencies, industries, and the public to reduce health risks and improve air quality.

Footnotes
1

In Supplementary Table 1, products #1–#25 represent the set from Steinemann et al. (2011) and #26–#37 the additional 12 products for this study.

 
2

Specifically, on product labels, five VOCs represented a total of 8 occurrences (ethanol, 3; isopropyl alcohol, 2; d-limonene, 1; acetone, 1; and propane, 1) and on product MSDSs, six VOCs represented a total of 13 occurrences (ethanol, 8; isopropyl alcohol, 1; d-limonene, 1; acetone, 1; propane, 1; and 2-butoxyethanol, 1).

 
3

This article does not provide specific wording from product labels and MSDSs because it could lead to the identification of product brands.

 
4

For the 28 products regulated by the CPSC, on the labels, ten listed no ingredients, and on the MSDSs, five listed no ingredients. For the nine products regulated by the FDA, on the labels, all nine listed ingredients, and on the MSDS, three listed no ingredients.

 
5

These 31 products were determined to be fragranced because of product advertising (e.g., “original scent”) or disclosure of a fragrance. For the 22 fragranced products regulated by the CPSA, 15 did not disclose a fragrance on the label, 12 did not disclose a fragrance on a MSDS, and 7 products did not disclose a fragrance on either. For the nine fragranced products regulated by the FDA, all nine disclosed a fragrance on the label, but eight did not disclose a fragrance on the MSDS.

 

Acknowledgments

I thank Lance Wallace, Ian MacGregor, Amy Davis, and Jaret Basden for their valued contributions to this study and article and two reviewers for their helpful and thoughtful comments that improved this manuscript.

Supplementary material

11869_2015_327_MOESM1_ESM.doc (638 kb)
Supplementary Table 1(DOC 638 kb)
11869_2015_327_MOESM2_ESM.docx (71 kb)
Supplementary Table 2(DOCX 45 kb)
11869_2015_327_MOESM3_ESM.docx (50 kb)
Supplementary Table 3(DOCX 35 kb)
11869_2015_327_MOESM4_ESM.docx (57 kb)
Supplementary Table 4(DOCX 37 kb)
11869_2015_327_MOESM5_ESM.docx (66 kb)
Supplementary Table 5(DOCX 44 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015