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Laundry detergents spread cancer-causing chemicals into the home

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Top-selling liquid laundry detergents contain cancer-causing chemicals that can leak into the home from a washing machine’s air vents, researchers have discovered this week.
The detergents contain an average of 25 volatile organic compounds, including seven hazardous air pollutants, two of which are carcinogenic, or cancer-causing.
The compounds make their way into the home from the washing machine’s air vents, and also into the public water supply, say researchers from the University of Washington.
The research team made the discovery after testing for fumes from leading laundry detergents. They estimate that washing machines emit around 6 per cent of the cancer-causing compound acetaldehyde that cars’ exhausts expel into the atmosphere.
“These products can affect not only personal health but also public and environmental health. Emissions from dryer vents are essentially unregulated and unmonitored, unlike the emissions from smokestacks and tail pipers (car exhausts),” said lead researcher Anne Steinemann.
(Source: Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health, 2011; doi: 10.1007/s11869-011-0156-1).

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