Removal of Volatile Organic Compounds from Consumer Products - Essay Example

Published: 2021-08-07
1048 words
4 pages
9 min to read
Wesleyan University
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Characteristically, volatile organic compounds have low vapor pressure and high boiling point. Volatile organic compounds are released from some compounds, but those from organic solvents have proved, and continue to prove to be a source of air pollution. On the other side of it, these compounds are toxic to humanity. The human population risks getting in contact with these lethal and volatile compounds through outdoor activities since the chemicals are airborne. Also, knowingly or unknowingly but majorly the latter, most households host the largest percentage of volatile chemicals as household cleaning products. The situation convolutes into more toxicity and health problems owing to the varying nature of concentrations of volatile chemicals in different cleaning detergents. The health effects range from nervous system damage to cancer. Also, chronic exposure to some of these volatile elements causes liver and kidney malfunctions leading to damage. To explore the relationship between volatile compounds and environment, a study on three consumer product was used.

One common cleaning product is the Comet disinfectant that comes handy in removing greasy stains from sink tiles, marble surfaces and walls just to mention a few. A disproportionately large number of users, however, do not know that this disinfectant contains several toxic chemicals. One culprit is the chloroform commonly used in industrial areas. Chloroform has been found to be highly volatile hence is abundantly found in the atmosphere. Present soil and water from waste spillage; chloroform is slow degrading but harms the environment in many ways. Research conducted to investigate the relationship between Comet disinfectant and air pollution was done by the environmental working group( EWG) in California schools. Comet disinfectant and other widely used disinfectants in California were used, and the atmospheric composition analyzed. The results indicated 457 pollutants containing chloroform and out of it, 146 emanated from Comet disinfectant. Alarmingly, the dreaded chemicals did not appear in the standard safety measure sheet. A cross tabulation between Comet and Glance NA (also a common disinfectant) by the EWG group demonstrates that comet causes asthma and related respiratory diseases. Replacing comet with a more environmentally friendly product like Tandi's scouring powder which is natural, contains no volatile components takes chemistry a notch higher in going green.

Paint as a consumer product is ubiquitously used across the globe. Typically paint is made of color pigments likening titanium dioxide which is then combined with binder plastics such as ethyl vinyl to enable them to stick and to wall surfaces. As an old trick in the books, solvents such as benzene have been found to make paint easy to apply and dry. Just like other volatile compounds, benzene is found in industrial processes and is highly volatile. Industrial workers are exposing themselves to large quantities of benzene each working hour. Consequently, workers need to deploy safety garments such as gas masks. One way to determine an exposure level is by is measuring phenol, organic and inorganic levels in urine. The United States occupational safety and health organization also recommends blood testing at intervals.

Hematological detection of benzene effects requires that individuals with a red blood cell count of less than 4000mm3 need evacuation from benzene prone areas. Risks associated benzene encounter not only inflicts the most influential species on earth (man), but also has its effects deep rooted in the environment. Environmentally, benzene chemically combines with other volatile molecules to create complex non-biodegradable air pollutants. Also, some of these compounds get buried in soils and snow. On consumer grounds, exposure levels depend on individual awareness. Most people use paints for instance without knowing the detrimental health effects associated with using this product especially without putting on gas masks and related paraphernalia. Further, paints using benzene as solvent cause diseases such as myeloid leukemia, cancer, and aplastic anemia. It is therefore upon the human population to take individual or concerted effort to replace lethal industrial paints with green planet paint which is entirely natural. Made up of clay, plant dyes, and milk casein, the Green Planet Paint deem sustainable to both the environment and humans. The third consumer product is aerosol spray found in automobile stations. Aerosols sprays are used to wipe the grease off cars contain hexane which is a highly volatile and flammable gas capable of causing air pollution. To demonstrate even more the effects, scientists in California conducted Bay Solvent study on 835 automobile post and pre workers who had worked in at least two automobile stores. To test whether these compounds could cause color defects or not, the participants were required to take lanthony panel test. Results revealed that 29% of the respondents had developed color defect patterns and 70% of those had blue-yellow color defect condition. Amongst the participants is a man, who claims to have used more than eight aerosol sprays in a day. He has been diagnosed with neural retinopathy since then. Follow up studies have been conducted on other eight automobile workers and reports hold that five have peripheral retinopathy symptoms while urine analysis indicates alarming levels of 2-2 hexadiene. Of the two, nerve malfunction and color defects, especially blue- yellow, was present amongst all participants tested positive. Implicitly, exposure to aerosol emissions renders one to accrued eye color defects due to retinal damage and neurotoxicity. Aerosol sprays have been linked to causing 12-25% depression, headaches and 30% chance of ear infection in infants. Evidently harmful aerosol sprays need to be replaced with safer eco-friendly methods such as Purasolve Brake Cleaner. This environment cleaner does not contain any volatile components and is non-chlorinated. Additionally pure essential air freshener can be used. Made of 41 natural oils including ginger and lemon and dyes, this air freshener is preservative free making it environments best friend. A green chemistry it is!

It is therefore among consumers to decide for their fate. Companies cannot be trusted since most active ingredients (as they call it), indicated on products have their siblings (volatile components) cruising with them all the way to peoples houses and eventually to their hospital bills. Hence personal analysis and research is prudent. While most people are oblivious to the dangers associated with these household products, Francis Bacon stated that knowledge is power. Correspondingly, consumers who understand the dangers and the associated with these harmful chemicals are at low risk of attaining health-related conditions compared to those who sail in the sea of ignorance.

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