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Halogenated volatile organic compounds in chlorine-bleach-containing household products and implications for their use
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It was recently shown that substantial amounts of halogenated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are formed in chlorine-bleach-containing household products as a result of reactions of sodium hypochlorite with organic product components. Use of these household products results in elevated indoor air halogenated VOC concentrations. Halogenated VOCs in several chlorine-bleach-containing household products (plain, n=9; fragranced, n=4; and surfactant-added, n=29) from Europe and North America were measured in the present study. Chloroform and carbon tetrachloride were the dominating compounds having average concentrations of 9.5±29.0 (average±SD) and 23.2±44.3 (average±SD) mgL-1, respectively. Halogenated VOC concentrations were the lowest in plain bleach, slightly higher in fragranced products and the highest in the surfactant-added products. Investigation of the relationship between the halogenated VOCs and several product ingredients indicated that chlorinated VOC formation is closely related to product composition. Indoor air concentrations from the household use of bleach products (i.e., bathroom, kitchen, and hallway cleaning) were estimated for the two dominating VOCs (chloroform and carbon tetrachloride). Estimated indoor concentrations ranged between 0.5 and 1030 (34±123, average±SD) μgm-3 and 0.3-1124 (82±194, average±SD) μgm-3 for chloroform and carbon tetrachloride, respectively, indicating substantial increases compared to background. Results indicated that indoor air concentrations from surfactant-added products were significantly higher (p<0.01) than other categories. The highest concentrations were from the use of surfactant-added bleach products for bathroom cleaning (92±228 and 224±334μgm-3, average±SD for chloroform and carbon tetrachloride, respectively). Associated carcinogenic risks from the use of these products were also estimated. The risk levels may reach to considerably high levels for a significant portion of the population especially for those steadily using the surfactant-added bleach products. Based on the results of the present study, it could be recommended that if possible the use of chlorine bleach containing household products should be avoided. If they are to be used, plain products should be preferred since the chlorinated VOC content increase with the number and amount of additives.