Indoor Smog

How’s the air quality today…at home?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

When you hear the words “air quality,” most people think of smog. That nasty brown stuff in the air. On a bad day, you try to stay indoors and avoid it. But is that really safer?

Delphine Farmer at CSU Boulder decided to find out. How? It was as easy as… staying in. She and colleagues transformed a house into a lab for a month. They packed the home with sensitive equipment that measures air quality. First experiment? Washing the floors with bleach. 

Boy, can cleaners make things dirty! The vapors given off by bleach interact with all the other vapors in a house — cooking oil, candle fumes…. even body odor! When these mix in the air, the result is a nasty cocktail. One with over one hundred thousand times more chlorine and hypochlorous acid than normal! Yuck!

This research encourages us to consider the health impacts of the great indoors too!

So, homebodies beware! There’s more in the air …. than we’re aware!