"Even a small reduction in lung function may indicate some harm to the lungs," said lead NIEHS researcher Stephanie London, M.D. "The best way to protect yourself, especially children who may have asthma or other respiratory illnesses, is to reduce the use of products and materials that contain these compounds."
The study -- published in Environmental Health Perspectives -- analyzed the effect of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as 1,4 DCB on the lung function of 953 adult men and women. Of the chemicals studied, which included VOCs benzene, toluene and acetone, only 1,4 DCB was linked to a reduction in pulmonary function; a link found to be significant even when smoking was factored in.
The chemical 1,4 DCB is usually found in space deodorizing products, such as room fresheners, urinal cakes and toilet bowl fresheners, and is used as an insecticide for moth control, according to the HIEHS. It can also be found in things like tobacco smoke, paints, cleaning products and vehicle exhausts, and is detectable in 96 percent of population blood samples, with blacks showing the highest levels and non-Hispanic whites showing the lowest.
Many common consumer products contain dangerous chemicals that harm human health and promote cancer, says author Randall Fitzgerald in his book The Hundred-Year Lie. Numerous household products expose consumers to harmful chemicals, including air fresheners, deodorant products, antibacterial soaps and many more.