Scented laundry products emit hazardous chemicals through dryer vents

A University of Washington researcher has found that air vented from machines using the top-selling scented liquid detergent and scented dryer sheet contains hazardous chemicals, including two that are classified as carcinogens.

“This is an interesting source of pollution because emissions from dryer vents are essentially unregulated and unmonitored,” said lead author Anne Steinemann, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs.

“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,” she stated.

Analysis of the captured gases emitted from laundry vents found more than 25 volatile organic compounds, including seven hazardous air pollutants.

Of those, two chemicals – acetaldehyde and benzene – are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogens, for which the agency has established no safe exposure level.

“These products can affect not only personal health, but also public and environmental health. The chemicals can go into the air, down the drain and into water bodies,” Steinemann added.

The findings were published online this week in the journal Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health.

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