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Study: Scented laundry products emit carcinogens

If you use scented laundry products, your dryer may be a source of carcinogenic compounds.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Unregulated chemicals in laundry products emit more than 20 volatile organic compounds when they’re used in household dryers. The compounds include seven hazardous air pollutants and two known carcinogens — acetaldehyde and benzene —  for which the EPA has not established safe exposure levels.

The University of Washington research suggests that, based on the amount of laundry products used in the region, household clothes dryers could account for the equivalent of 6 percent of the amount of acetaldehyde emissions coming from automobiles.

The study was done by Anne Steinemann, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs. Steineman previously used chemical sleuthing to deduce what chemicals are being used in fragranced consumer products.

Steinemann says she was spurred to do the study by people reporting adverse reactions to fragranced air coming from laundry vents. The project’s website includes letters from the public reporting health effects from scented consumer products.

“This is an interesting source of pollution because emissions from dryer vents are essentially unregulated and unmonitored,” Steinemann said. “If they’re coming out of a smokestack or tail pipe, they’re regulated, but if they’re coming out of a dryer vent, they’re not.” Continue reading

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