Science News – Lemon-scented air fresheners and cleaning products can cause dangerous indoor pollution, according to Charles J.Weschler, a chemist at Telcordia Technologies in Red Bank, NJ. He stumbled into this fact while experimenting with alemon scenting agent at his laboratory, when he noticed that they had coated his white message board. He found that theboard had a thin coat of submicron particles on it, as a result of the combination of the limonene gas in the spray andthe ozone in the air.

You should also beware of pine-scented sprays. The haze in the air above many evergreen forests is caused by theturpentine in the trees. The terpenes combine with ozone to produce tiny particles that are small enough to be easilyinhaled. Once in the lungs, these particles can cause heart and lung diseases.

Weschler and his colleagues sprayed a wooden table with lemon-scented wax for 15 seconds and measured the release of limonene particles into the air for the next 3 hours. They then combined these particles in a test chamber with theamount of ozone present in the air on a hot summer day and found that dangerous particulates began forming within 30minutes.

If you’re suffering from allergies, you may be reacting to your coffee table.

Science News, December 9, 2000, Vol. 158

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