Shampoo, oven cleaner, deodorant and other household products are as significant a source of the most dangerous form of air pollution as cars, research has found.

Scientists studying air pollution in Los Angeles found that up to half of particles known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) came from domestic products, which also include paint, pesticides, bleach and perfumes.

These compounds degrade into particles known as PM2.5, which cause respiratory problems and are implicated in 29,000 premature deaths each year in the UK. Traffic had been assumed to be the biggest source of air pollution. The new findings, published in the journal Science, led to warnings that countries may struggle to hit pollution targets, with most tackling vehicle emissions.

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