How the skin reduces indoor air pollution

Saturday, May 14, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: indoor air pollution, skin, health news

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(NaturalNews) The 500 million skin cells you shed naturally from your body every single day may actually be helping to purify the air in your home and workplace, says a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Charles Weschler and his team from the American Chemical Society say that the oil found in skin cells helps to reduce ozone levels in the air, which in turn eases levels of pollution that irritate the eyes, throat, and nose.

Humans shed skin cells at an average of 0.001 to 0.003 ounces every hour, and their entire outer layer of skin every two-to-four weeks. These cells contain both cholesterol and squalene, which previous studies have found to help reduce pollution levels in airplane cabins.

"It is only within the last five years that we've grown to appreciate the central role that squalene (from human skin oil) plays in oxidation chemistry within indoor environments," says the new report. "More than half of the ozone removal measured in a simulated aircraft cabin was found to be a consequence of ozone reacting with exposed skin, hair, and clothing of passengers."

While air quality improvement brought about by squalene in skin is measurable, researchers admit that the improvement is somewhat small. The report explains that ozone levels diminish by anywhere from 2 - 15 percent as a result of squalene, depending on various other environmental factors.

Indoor air quality is exacerbated by conventional household cleaning products, many of which are filled with toxic chemicals. A report published in the journal ACS Environmental Science & Technology back in 2006 explains that chemicals from household cleaners and air fresheners react with indoor air pollutants to produce secondary air pollutants (

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