A report by UK government scientists will warn that lemon and pine scents commonly used in household products – including leading natural brands – contribute to the growing amount of dangerous air pollution in the home.

An article in this week’s Sunday Times suggests that publication of the report – complied by Defra’s Air Quality Expert Group – has been delayed until after Britain’s upcoming General Election. 

Post-Brexit environmental and pollution standards have become a politically charged issue following the UK’s EU Referendum vote. Many environmentalists fear the present Government is intent on relaxing current EU-based regulations.

The new report will say that that the scents, alpha pinene and limonene, break down to produce benzene and formaldehyde. Benzene has been shown to attack bone marrow and red blood cells, while formaldehyde damages eyes and lungs. Studies show that exposure to both substances may raise the risk of cancer.

In its report, the expert group will present its findings that many homes have pollution levels higher than the busiest city streets – much of it caused by cleaning chemicals, cosmetic sprays, aerosol propellants and DIY products. 

The Times reports comments made by the group’s chairman at a Royal Society conference last week: “We are using more chemical products now than ever so it is one of the few areas of pollution where our individual and collective emissions are surging.

“The problem is that, once released, they react in the air to produce toxins. The volatile organics from one aerosol can are equivalent to those released by a driving a diesel car for 6,000 miles.”

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