Friday, January 7, 2011

Air Freshener Chemicals and Ozone: A Bad Combination

Americans spend about 1 billion dollars in air fresheners annually. However, are these air fresheners safe? Several studies show that they aren’t.  Air fresheners contain chemical pollutants that may lead to respiratory diseases.

Health Problems from Air Fresheners

A study from the University of Bristol called “Children of the ‘90s” documented the health and development of 14,000 children since before their births. One of the results they have found out were connected with air freshener use and health problems. The study did not delve into the chemicals that may have caused the health problems, only their effects.

This study showed that children whose households use air fresheners suffer from diarrhea more times than children who use air fresheners occasionally or none at all. They also report more earaches. About 10 percent of mothers in these homes also experience more headaches. Even more astonishing is that women who use air fresheners daily are 26 percent more likely to suffer bouts of depression.

Chemicals in Air Fresheners

However, the University of Bristol stopped short in identifying how exactly these air fresheners cause these effects. A study by the California Air Resources Board examined the ingredients in 21 air fresheners that are widely available in the country. The study found that some of these air freshener chemicals interact with indoor ozone levels to produce pollutants that are toxic and may cause health problems. These toxic pollutants are formaldehyde which is a known cause for cancer and may cause respiratory problems. Other chemicals that they’ve discovered were ultrafine particles, acetaldehyde, organic acids, hydroxyl radicals, secondary organic aerosol, hydrogen peroxide, and other oxygenated intermediates.

Aside from the California Air Resources Board study, the University of California at Berkeley revealed that air fresheners contain ethylene-based glycol ethers that are classified as hazardous air pollutants by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Given the dangers of chemical air fresheners, the EPA has not banned air fresheners and only advise the general population to exercise care while using these products. If you are concerned with the health risks involved in using air fresheners, you can stop using these dangerous substances in your homes, especially if you have young children or family members who have respiratory health problems such as asthma. Another alternative is to use natural air fresheners such as the Orange Mate Mist Natural Air Freshener or Lemon Mate Mist Natural Air Fresheners which eliminate the danger of releasing toxic chemicals in your home. You really should use chemical free air fresheners in your home.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Why You Should Use Chemical Free Air Fresheners

I first heard about chemical free air fresheners from a friend who is a chemist. She told me that I should try out chemical free air fresheners especially since I have a baby and kids at home. She told me that regular air fresheners have chemicals that may disrupt a human’s reproductive development.

With all the chemicals we’re exposed to, it’s kind of scary to know that the air fresheners we use to keep our air smelling great could affect our health. You could absorb these chemicals through your skin or when you inhale them.

The number one chemical you should watch out for are phthalates.  Phthalates affect our hormones. They especially affect newborns and very young kids. These chemicals may affect testosterone levels. It may also affect reproductive development. It may lower testosterone levels. Worse, pregnant women may bear babies with birth defects.

When I learned about phthalates, I panicked. Who wouldn’t? I especially love spraying my house with air fresheners. I love the clean smells. It makes me feel well-rested living in a house that smells great. What I didn’t know is that I may have exposed myself and my kids to phthalates.

When I read about phthalates, I came across a study made by the Natural Resources Defense Council or NRDC. NRDC is a non-profit group that advocates for public health and safety. They conducted the very first study on air fresheners.

This study revealed that common household air fresheners contain phthalates. They tested 14 brands and 12 came up positive for phthalates. Some of these brands were even labeled “unscented” or “all-natural.”
So I started to look at the labels to see which ones are phthalate-free. I couldn’t find the word phthalates in any labels I’ve read. It turns out that manufacturers do not put this on the labels. They’re not required to by the government.

This means that we have to be extra careful about what we are spraying in our homes. That’s why I started hunting for phthalate-free products and found two with the yummiest scents, Orange Mate Mist and Lemon Mate Mist. These two products are taken from the fruit essences and uses all-natural products. Now I can spray away knowing that my kids are safe from phthalates. All thanks to chemical free air fresheners.