Some cosmetics and deodorants contain chemicals that, when released into the air, may pose a risk to human health
We often think of pollution as an outdoor problem. But many office workers are constantly breathing a complex soup of invisible airborne substances including ozone, carbon dioxide, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The latter are gases that can be released from molds, building materials, human metabolism—and personal care products such as lotions, deodorants, hair spray and cosmetics. Some VOCs have been linked to health effects including fatigue, difficulty concentrating, eye, nose and throat irritation, and even cancer. Whether exposure to these substances in offices poses a significant risk to human health remains an open question, however.
Benjamin Franklin suspected the unhealthy effects of indoor air back in 1785. “I am persuaded that no common Air from without, is so unwholesome as the Air within a close Room, that has been often breath’d and not changed,” he wrote in a letter to Dutch physician Jan Ingenhousz. Over the years scientists have tried to back up his claim, and recent research provides some support for it.