While lungs remain the main way by which air pollutants get into the body, and, if in sufficient quantities, cause ill-health effects, a new study shows that certain pollutants (‘semi-volatiles’ like phthalates) can be drawn in by the skin. This effect is known as ‘dermal uptake’ and the levels absorbed can be equivalent to those drawn in through breathing via the lungs.
For the curious, here’s the peer reviewed source. Time to break out the plastic bubble …just make sure it’s BPA free 😉
The study confirms we can (and do) get air pollution via osmosis. There’s been news in the past about inhaling exhaust changes the expression of our DNA. Those face masks some people wear? It’s really only a courtesy as an attempt to minimize spreading what they already have. Between the grade of mask and fit (no beards!), most consumer grade stuff isn’t worth wearing with respect to limiting your exposure.
Consider stocking up on snake plants and peace lily’s, because they remove 14 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air in significant amounts. FYI though: they’re toxic to cats. HEPA filters won’t help with VOCs. If you keep your windows shut to maximize the effectiveness of a HEPA filter, you may have higher VOC levels inside. Activated carbon filters may help, but they’re of limited value. Most “consumer grade” AC filters foul with dust very quickly. you’d need an industrial AC filter (one that periodically heats itself to recharge the AC) for it to be really effective. Of course a lot depends on your home environment. Do you have a lot of new plastics around? Did you paint recently? Are there people using a lot of cosmetics, hairspray, deodorant, shampoo, etc? I wish there were an inexpensive tester for common VOCs. So far I have not been able to find one.