Air conditioning does more than keep us cool. A study of 300 adults and homes concludes that central air conditioning removes significant levels of volatile organic compounds and pollution particulates from indoor air. The research, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, finds that using air conditioning with windows closed reduced indoor air pollution the most. One caveat, however, is that the research was conducted in Taipei, China—notable for its extreme outdoor pollution.
Another recent study published in Environmental Science confirms the general premise. A research team in Zhejiang, China, found that air conditioning reduced the presence of potent atmospheric pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAC) by 23 percent. PACs contain compounds that are carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic (damaging to fetuses).