Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Aerosols vs. Aerosol Products

Often consumers and media alike confuse “aerosol products” with the broader term “aerosols.” According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary the word “Aerosol” has 2 definitions:

1. : a suspension of fine solid or liquid particles in gas ; also plural : the fine particles of an aerosol
2. : a substance (as an insecticide or medicine) dispensed from a pressurized container as an aerosol; also : the container for this

Most people think that aerosol products (the second definition) is the only definition for aerosols, and they read scientific reports on climate change and incorrectly attribute the affects of stratospheric aerosols (first definition: fine particles in the air that come from carbon emissions and other natural causes) to aerosol products. This leads to confusion and unwarranted negative association of the aerosol product form to global warming.

A recent blog posting by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) gives many examples of how technical scientific terminology is often misinterpreted by the layman. The article states “there are dozens of words common to climate change research that have the same problem, she said: “error, values, risk, uncertainty – even “aerosol,” which means a small atmospheric particle to scientists, but means “spray can” to many other people.”

Clearly there is a great deal of confusion around aerosol products, and it is important for consumers to know that aerosol products:

1. Do not contain ozone depleting substances (and haven't contained CFCs over 30 years)
2. Do not contribute to global warming

For more information and facts about aerosol products, please visit:

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