While doing a load of laundry you may be thinking about the effect that detergents and dryer sheets have on your clothes, but what about that warm exhaust air that wafts out the vent? Well, a new study from the University of Washington unveils that the sweet-smelling fragrance can actually contain harmful toxins. In a recent study conducted by UW professor Dr. Anne Steinemann, a research team conducted a small study to understand the effects of fragrances in laundry products (both detergent and dryer sheets). The results found more than 25 VOCs emitted from dryer vents, with highest concentrations of acetaldehyde, acetone, and ethanol (two of which are considered carcinogenic). To put it in context, one of the carcinogenic VOC's, acetaldehyde, had emissions that would represent 3% of total acetaldehyde emissions from automobiles in the study area. That might not seem like a lot, but given how commonplace they are in homes, the findings are significant.
Steinemann states, "this is an interesting source of pollution because emissions from dryer vents are essentially unregulated. If they're coming out of a smokestack or tail pipe, they're regulated, but if they're coming out of a dryer vent, they're not."
The trouble with household products is that companies are not required to list any or all ingredients, making it difficult to decipher how harmful they might be.
The solution? Try using unscented detergent and dryer sheets, or as many Re-Nest readers would advise, skip the dryer sheets altogether!
Read More: Chemical Emissions from Residential Dryer Vents During Use of Fragranced Laundry Products from the University of Washington
(Image: Lauren Zerbey | Re-Nest)