Clearing The Air

Have you been in the grocery store lately and navigated your way to air fresheners? The offerings are amazing – some of them are:

  • aerosol sprays
  • outlet plugins
  • night lite warmers
  • diffusers

Many store-bought air fresheners contain toxic chemicals, spreading them throughout your home every time you use them. And even if you haven’t experienced any side effects, did you know that prolonged use can cause serious health problems which you may never attribute to your commercial air fresheners?

A study conducted by the University of Washington in 2010 found that out of the 25 commonly used scented products they tested, there were an average of 17 chemicals emitted from each one. There were 133 total chemicals identified throughout the entire testing process and approximately 25 percent are considered hazardous or toxic. Surprisingly, only one was listed on the product label. What about the other 132 chemical compounds that you are unknowingly discharging into the air?
The sad thing is that manufacturers of these types of air freshening scented products (as well as personal care products, cleaning supplies and laundry products) are not required to disclose what goes into making them!

The Household Product Labeling Act was introduced in 2010,  would require companies to disclose ingredients in air fresheners, soaps, laundry supplies and other consumer products, but was never passed. The Breast Cancer Fund is again asking for legislative action to enforce these labeling requirements. Many of the manufacturers have complained that there isn’t enough room on their products to label each ingredient – which is probably an indication of too many! And while many of the chemicals being used are known to cause health issues, unless they appear on the product labels, it is unknown what exactly is being used.

Here are just a few of the toxic chemical in your commercial air fresheners:

    [accordion_toggle title=”Phenols“]Phenols are made from crude oil through a series of manufacturing processes. Phenols can be inhaled and are readily absorbed through the skin. They have been linked to skin irritations, wheezing, coughing, upset stomach, kidney and liver damage. Some suspect they may be a contributor to autism in children as well.[/accordion_toggle]
    [accordion_toggle title=”Formaldehyde “]In its basic form, formaldehyde is a colorless gas. It’s used in a variety of products because it is a good binding agent and cheap to manufacture. Formaldehyde can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled and has been linked to sleeplessness, fatigue, headache, breathing difficulties, nausea, diarrhea and bronchitis, to name a few.[/accordion_toggle]
    [accordion_toggle title=”Phthalates“]These endocrine disruptors interfere with the natural hormone processes of the body. Phthalates are linked to reproductive damage, birth defects, developmental disabilities and cancer. You can usually identify phthalates in products that contain DBP and DEP, DEHP, BzBP and DMP.[/accordion_toggle]


Needless to say, these products are better left unused. An alternative to using these damaging products is creating your own “green” air freshener from a just a few ingredients.

[yumprint-recipe id=’6′]