Before you spray Febreze or plug in a Glade Plug-In, light a scented candle, or use some so-called air freshening wick, mist, aerosol, or other car or room deodorizer, think twice. You’ll be shocked to learn their ingredients and the harmful effects they can cause. That “Cleansing Rain,” “Summer Breeze,” “Fresh Country,” “Cool Morning Air” or “Berry Burst” might be having disastrous effects on your health or the health of your family, including children and unborn fetuses
The Real Reason Air Fresheners “Smell Good”
It may surprise you to know that the air fresheners you use don’t actually make the odor in your home go away. Your home smells good when you use them because they actually change the way your nose perceives odors. A chemical called p-dichlorobenzene deadens the nerve cells in your nose by coating your nostrils in a type of film.
The Centers for Disease Control classifies p-dichlorobenzene as a “possible occupational carcinogen”. It has also been reported to cause asthma, allergy attacks, eye irritation, liver disease, kidney malfunction, gastrointestinal problems, and skin rash.
Dangerous Chemicals Lead to Mystery Symptoms
Do you suffer from frequent headaches, allergies, and stomach problems? Millions of people live with chronic pain and discomfort of one kind or another and are dependent on some of medication to get through the day. Your doctor may never have told you that your mystery symptoms may be as simple as a reaction to all the chemicals in your home.
Chemicals in scented air fresheners include:
These plasticizers are powerful endocrine disruptors that have been known to contribute to male and female infertility in laboratory mice. Studies have shown that children exposed to phthalates in the womb have an increased risk of developing neurological and behavioral problems.
Research has shown that there is a direct link between the parabens found in deodorant and breast cancer in women. It is no better for you to breathe in artificial scents containing these dangerous chemicals either. Not only are parabens known carcinogens, they also contribute to the development of neurological problems, decreased immunity, gastrointestinal problems, and infertility.
Formaldehyde is a preservative used in dead bodies; there is absolutely no reason for you to be breathing this stuff in while you’re alive. Side effects of this toxic poison include wheezing, coughing, throat irritation, burning skin and eyes, nausea, and stomach distress. The Environmental Protection agency has classified formaldehyde as a possible human carcinogen for over 20 years.
Used in the manufacture of pesticides and air fresheners, petrochemicals cause breathing problems, headaches, chronic fatigue, suppressed thyroid function, nausea, weight gain, and neurological dysfunction.
This flammable, sweet-smelling chemical has a serious dark side. It is a know carcinogen that has been linked to the development leukemia and other blood cancers. Other dangerous side effects of this air freshener additive include anemia, low white blood count, and low platelet count, which can lead to internal bleeding.
- Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are airborne gas byproducts emitted by a wide array of household products, from paints to disinfectants and automotive products, says the Environmental Protection Agency. Toxic VOCs can produce a range of health effects, including eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea and headaches, and even damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system, says the EPA, which offers a complete list of symptoms.
How to Make Homemade Air Freshener
Synthetic air freshener is a toxic poison that should not be in your home. It is slowly doing neurological and immune system damage to you, your children, and even your pets. That doesn’t mean that you can’t freshen the air in your home, however. There are plenty of great-smelling natural air fresheners out there that will freshen up your home without the scary side effects.
These homemade air fresheners include:
Essential oils are commonly-used medicinally to heal minor ailments such as headaches and anxiety but they work perfectly as homemade air fresheners. When selecting essential oils, beware imposters. A lot of the oils sold in discount stores in the candle and potpourri aisle have chemicals in them too.
Instead, buy genuine essential oils at health food stores or online supplement stores. Lavender, sandalwood, vanilla, lemon, and cinnamon essential oils can be used with an electric or candle diffuser to freshen any room. Though some essential oils can be an expensive investment at the outset, a little goes a long way. It takes just a drop or two of oil to fill an entire room with an inviting aroma for hours!
- Baking Soda
For high-odor areas like bathrooms and kitchens, you can put a scoop or two of baking soda in a small plastic container and place it behind your toilet or garbage bin. Baking soda is a natural odor absorber and will pull the offending odor into itself so you won’t smell it. For best results, change the baking soda once per month.
You can use a scoop or two of coffee on the kitchen counter or in your trashcan liner to absorb odors before they become offensive. For most, coffee is an enjoyable and familiar smell that beats chemical air fresheners every time.
To disinfect and deodorize any room in your house, forget about aresol spray; use white vinegar instead. Fill an empty spray bottle with one part white vinegar and four parts water. Spritz a fine mist of the mixture into any room to neutralize offensive odor.
- Simmered Fruit
Apples going bad? Don’t throw them out. Cut them up and simmer them along with some cinnamon sticks and vanilla to fill your whole home with the warm, inviting scent. You can use simmered fruit for two or three days before it starts to wither and needs to be replaced.
Air Fresheners are Toxic Eh? Prove It!
Ok, no problem. Since the companies that make these Air Wicks and Glade Plugins and whatnot aren’t legally required to list all of the ingredients on their packaging, the harmful chemicals usually fly under the radar of “fragrance” which is a combination of all kinds of chemicals, one of which being something called phthalates.
First go to the National Library of Medicine where peer reviewed studies are uploaded everyday. Search for phthalates carcinogenic and see what turns up. You’ll find they are linked to asthma, cancer, and all kinds of other conditions. They are also endocrine disrupters which means they interfere with your hormone levels.
This study above can be found here.
But how can we prove these air fresheners contain phthalates? Luckily the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) has done the work for us. This environmental group did a study aimed at finding phthalates in these seemingly harmless air fresheners. The study can be viewed and downloaded here.
I actually had to print this study up and hand it to my new roommate to prove that his air freshener -the first one on the list- was giving me headaches, a sore throat, and what I suspect to be the cause of the most painful earache I’ve ever experienced. I almost went to the doctor, and I abhor doctors!
Fortunately my roommate, after much debate, eventually got rid of his Air Wick™. I already knew that these air fresheners that you plugin are the worst of the bunch, but this was further confirmation.
Once you start making these changes and remove this toxic crap from your life, you’ll realize you will breath easier, you won’t get as many headaches or sore throats, you’ll have more energy, and you will just feel better overall.
These websites rate these air fresheners on how healthy they are, but instead of trying to find a healthy air freshener, make your own as we’ve discussed above, or just open a window.