Aerosols: What are they, where are they from and where do they go?

Aerosols: What are they, where are they from and where do they go?

Aerosols are everywhere in today’s world; be it your morning deodorant and a spritz of hairspray, or your everyday air freshener, they can all contribute towards household air pollution.

What are aerosols anyway?

Aerosols are made up of three components: the active ingredient (which is the product itself), the propellant (which is how the product is dispensed, and is either a liquified or compressed gas), and a solvent (which is what allows the active ingredient and the propellant to mix, and then evaporates to leave the active ingredient behind).

Some history around aerosol pollution

Previously, aerosols were made using chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as the propellant because they’re odourless and inflammable. Their environmental impact however proved to be incredibly detrimental as they were found to be ozone depleting with high global warming potential. Global protocols shifted aerosols away from CFCs and towards volatile organic compounds (VOCs) instead. At the time, the impacts of VOCs were recognised but deemed to be less damaging than the CFC alternative. Basically, we swapped a bad option for a slightly better (but still not great) alternative.

Since this change was made, domestic aerosol use has increased significantly. Even the anticipated effects of VOCs have been much higher than originally expected. Personal care products like deodorant, body and hair spray, and antiperspirants are responsible for the largest portion of the aerosol market by both number of products and total VOC emissions. Emissions from different aerosols can vary a lot, but even small amounts of VOCs can contribute to poor indoor air quality and cause negative health effects. A study from the University of York showed that aerosol products emit more VOCs than all the vehicles in the UK, showing just how bad aerosol pollution has become.

How about some aerosol alternatives? Our Top 5 alternatives.  

It can feel overwhelming to find eco-friendly alternatives to your daily aerosol personal care products, so we’ve done a round-up of some of our favourites below!

  1. Swap your spray deodorant for a balm or roll on. We love the Akt deodorant balm for long lasting freshness, or the Salt of the Earth roll on which comes with refill packs so you can reduce your waste while you limit aerosols!
  1. Switch out your Batiste for a loose powder dry shampoo between washes. I’ve been using this Corinne Taylor one for over a year and it’s great at keeping my hair fresh, and it smells delicious! 
  1. Want your home smelling fresher? Ditch the spray air freshener and grab yourself a reed diffuser! They’re long lasting and low maintenance, making them a great option to add your favourite scent to your room.

  2. Spent all morning on your hairstyle just for the wind to ruin it? You don’t need tonnes of hairspray to keep it in place! Hair gel is great for those pesky flyaways, or holding extravagant looks in place. Gurl Gone Green even has a whole round-up of eco-friendly hairspray alternatives!
  1. It might be fun watching shaving foam expand, but you can still get that Santa Claus look using shaving soap and a brush. They also tend to last ages because you can get such a good lather!

We hope you found this round-up useful! This is an independent list that members of our team use on a regular basis, and we’re always looking for a different way of doing things. If you have any tips to add just let us know in the comments so that everyone can benefit!

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Further reading:,Exposure%20to%20VOC%20vapors%20can%20cause%20a%20variety%20of%20health,are%20suspected%20or%20proven%20carcinogens.
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