The importance of chemical components in cleaning agents for the indoor environment

Karl Ventzel Vejrup

    Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch


    In order to evaluate the importance for the indoor environment of chemical compounds in cleaning agents, the emission of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) from 10 selected cleaning agents and the content of LAS (Linear AlkanbenzeneSulfonate) in dust samples from 7 buildings were investigated.The investigation of VOC emission from 10 selected cleaning agents showed that it was useful to classify the VOCs into two groups: nonpolar VOCs and polar VOCs.The nonpolar VOCs consisted of several hundred different compounds, mainly terpenes typically used as perfume in cleaning agents. The nonpolar VOC concentration varied between 1,2% and 7,4%. Investigation of the emission profiles in the micro emission cell "FLEC" showed that the nonpolar VOCs were emitted immediately after the cleaning agent was applied to a surface, which means that the cleaning staff is exposed to the highest concentrations of nonpolar VOCs. In one experiment, the concentration of nonpolar VOCs in the breathing zone of a person who treated the floor in a large climate chamber (45 m3) using a water based polish product was found to be 3,9 mg/m3. Use of scented cleaning agents usually means that odour thresholds of some compounds are exceeded, which means that the perception of the air in the cleaned room is changed and the indoor air quality is affected.The group of polar VOCs consists of the different water miscible solvents frequently used in cleaning agents to improve the properties of the products. The two wash and vax products included in this investigation had a content of 2-(2-ethoxyethoxy)ethanol of 1,5% and 3.1%. Investigation of their emission profiles in the FLEC showed that the emission of polar VOCs is delayed until the surface is nearly dry, hence the polar VOCs have elongated emission profiles. In experiments with polish treatment of the floor in a large climate chamber (45 m3) concentrations of up to 20 mg/m3 og 2-(2-ethoxyethoxy)ethanol were measured after 2 hours and it took more than 10 hours before the concentration was below the odour threshold (4 mg/m3).The amount of non-volatile compounds introduced to the indoor environment from cleaning agents was investigated by comparing the contents of LAS in dust samples from 7 selected buildings. The contents of LAS in the particle fraction of the investigated samples varied between 34 ppm and 1500 ppm LAS. In buildings where a cleaning agent containing LAS was used, an increase of the content of LAS in the dust was found after floor wash compared to the contents before floor wash. However, the most important source of LAS in the indoor environment is residues of detergent in clothes, thus a newly washed shirt contained 2960 ppm LAS. Other circumstances like transport of LAS between smooth floored corridors to carpeted offices, are apparently also of importance for the LAS content in individual rooms.The amounts of LAS found in the dust samples indicated that LAS may be of importance for the indoor environment, but inadequate knowledge about how low concentrations of surface active agents in combination with other compounds affect the tearfilm and the mucous membranes of the airways means that it is impossible to assess the importance of the concentrations found here. Moreover, there is a lack of knowledge about the amounts o surface active agents other than LAS which are introduced to the indoor environment from detergent residues in clothes and from cleaning agents. Finally, the knowledge about the effect of other types of non-volatile compounds introduced into the indoor environment from cleaning agents, such as wax, are limited.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationKgs. Lyngby, Denmark
    PublisherTechnical University of Denmark
    Number of pages128
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 1997


    Dive into the research topics of 'The importance of chemical components in cleaning agents for the indoor environment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this