Odors and Vapors: Tobacco and Cooking Smoke, Cleaning, Hygiene and Craft Supplies

In an effort to become more energy efficient, many homeowners and businesses have improved their building’s insulation and have become more weather tight. While this certainly conserves energy, odors and vapors can also accumulate within the home and pollute the indoor air. Odors and vapors are caused by everyday activities that take place inside the home, and include smoking, cooking, cleaning, and are even caused by personal hygiene products and craft supplies.

No Smoking
Like other indoor air pollutants, these contaminants have adverse health affects on inhabitants. For instance, cigarette smoke affects all residents, including nonsmokers. Smoke from both tobacco and cooking activities include chronic bronchitis, respiratory infections, lung and heart disease, and can cause pneumonia in children. Cleaning supplies, hygiene and craft products can also cause symptoms of illness, including irritation to the eyes and skin, dizziness, nausea and allergic reactions. According to the World Watch Institute, chemicals from cleaning supplies are also responsible for 10 percent of accidental toxic exposures in children.

Odors and Vapors from Tobacco Smoke and Cooking:


  • Cigarettes contain over four thousand chemicals, which are all released into the air when lit. At least 33 of these chemicals are known carcinogens, which have been proven to cause cancer in both animals and humans.
  • Cooking over the stove top generates a number of aerosols, which include smoke and grease particles. If the oven has a self-cleaning option, aerosols are also produced and easily enter into the indoor air.
  • Odors caused by tobacco smoke and cooking activities can remain within the building for long periods of time, even if these activities have ceased.

While replacing HVAC filters on a regular basis will help, the only sure-fire way to rid the home or building of cigarette smoke odor is to cease this activity indoors. For cooking odors, an overhead exhaust fan or a properly sized range hood can be added to help ventilate the room and remove contaminants before they enter the air.

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Odors from Cleaning, Hygiene and Craft Supplies:


  • Cleaners that contain harmful and air polluting chemicals include general all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, cleansers, spot removers and air fresheners.
  • Dangerous hygiene products, such as body sprays, fragrances and other aerosols, release vapors into the air that can easily be spread throughout the home.
  • Craft supplies, including glues, craft and spray paints, wood products, dry erase markers and pens also release odors into the air that can be harmful, particularly to children.

Many companies now offer safe alternatives to traditional harsh cleaning supplies. These are often more environmentally friendly and are safer to use within the home. Many hygiene and craft products are now made to be more environmentally friendly, and will not release as many hazardous chemicals into the air. Regardless, proper ventilation when using cleaning, hygiene and craft products is still vital to reduce indoor air pollution, and the directions on product labels should always be adhered to.


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