From Brittany Mauriss on February 02, 2009 in CalFinder News
With winter’s cold and wind chilling many parts of the country, it’s not the time when homeowners open their windows and doors for any length of time. This can make for stuffy rooms and stale air. But before you reach for most of the popular air fresheners in your supermarket, you might want to consider the growing body of research advising against their use.
“Most air fresheners interfere with your ability to smell by coating your nasal passages with an oil film, or by releasing a nerve deadening agent,” writes Richard Alexander for Consumer Law Page. He continues, “Known toxic chemicals found in an air freshener: Formaldehyde: Highly toxic, known carcinogen. Phenol: When phenol touches your skin it can cause it to swell, burn, peel, and break out in hives…”
TheDailyGreen.com posted an article about the hazards of using air fresheners in nurseries, where parents often use them to eliminate stinky diaper smells. Contributing writer Alexandra Zissu, co-author of The Complete Organic Pregnancy, highlights a study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council on the toxic hazards of air fresheners, including the finding that “many of these products contain hazardous chemicals known to cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems.”
Science Daily weighed in on the topic with a feature piece about research conducted by Anne Steinemann, University of Washington professor of civil and environmental engineering and public affairs. She got interested in the topic because people told her that air fresheners in public restrooms and the scent from laundry products vented outdoors were making them sick. She wanted to know, “What’s in these products that is causing these effects?” Her UW study found that “top-selling laundry products and air fresheners emitted dozens of different chemicals. All six products tested gave off at least one chemical regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws, but none of those chemicals was listed on the product labels.”
Scary, huh? So what’s a fresh fragrance loving person to do?
As is often the case, when awareness builds about hazards inherent in products once used without a second thought, health- and environmentally-conscious consumers create a market for new products that meet the need without jeopardizing people or planet. And there are often simple ways to use common, toxin-free products to solve the problem.
Delicious Organics presents a feature called “Let’s Clear the Air,” which addresses the dangers of using common air fresheners and also gives useful tips for freshening air in non-toxic ways. Some of these tips include:
- Open the windows
- Place open boxes of baking soda in fridge and bathrooms
- Use a few drops of pure essential oils in a mister with distilled water and spritz
- Simmer herbs like rosemary, basil, or ginger
- Add potted plants to rooms to clear carbon dioxide and other toxins naturally
- Use organic herbal sachets and potpourris
Another healthful option for freshening air is Ozium, an air purifier registered by the EPA. Ozium actually cleanses the air. Among many sources for Ozium air sanitizers, Atmosphere Products Co. offers a variety of air fresheners and useful information about the safety of Ozium.