I thought this may be a good read for some. As I stated in previous posts, I don’t use these types of things in our home but I know that many people do. I got this article from MSN website.
“Our homes and businesses stink. Or that’s the impression you might get from the media. Clean, welcoming homes are associated with fresh scents, and busy wives and mothers can rely on air fresheners to give their home a boost. The ads feature happy family members sniffing carpets and enthusiastically inhaling the freshly-scented air.
Sure, it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but what are we really breathing in when we use these products?
It’s no surprise that we don’t want unpleasant smells around. After all, we spend an average of 90 per cent of our time indoors (according to Health Canada), and we’re willing to pay to make our environments more pleasant. Air fresheners are a booming business — it’s a $200 million market in Canada, and an estimated three out of five Canadians use these products in their homes. Air fresheners also appear in many public places including offices and institutions.
However, fragranced products are anathema for people with chemical sensitivities and allergies — and new research is warning that air fresheners can pose a threat to everyone. Air fresheners contain chemicals that mask odours or deaden or interfere with our sense of smell. Some chemicals actually line the inside of the nasal passage.
But where is the proof scientific proof?
Air fresheners have been the focus of a few studies over the past couple of years. A 2007 European study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that regularly using fragranced sprays increased the risk of asthma by as much as 50 per cent. Another study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that most sprays, gels and plug in air fresheners it tested contained phthalates (known hormone disruptors), even if they were labelled as “all-natural” or “unscented”.
But that’s not all… In July 2008, a University of Washington study published in Environmental Impact Assessment found that six top-selling fragranced products (three of which were air fresheners) contained nearly 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Ten of those VOCs are classified as toxic under U.S. Laws. Further research is underway.
In addition, scientists in Korea found that many household products such as air fresheners emit toxic compounds. All 42 products they tested contained acetone, ethanol, limonene, perchloroethylene (PCE), phenol, and 1-propanol. Another 10 per cent of products also contained other potentially hazardous chemicals.
Closer to home, the CBC recently tested air fresheners currently available in Canada. They found that nearly one third contained DBP and/or DEP (the same two phthalates banned from children’s toys in 12 European countries). The phthalates are used to make the scent last longer.
While many people are questioning the safety of these products, not everyone agrees. Companies that produce these products claim they are safe and that they meet all safety regulations. Further, they claim that the levels of any chemicals present are too low to be harmful and that the studies as misleading.
Trade associations such as the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) also say air fresheners are safe. The CSPA’s website says that the items are subject to strict standards and that manufacturers choose chemicals with low toxicity. The products do not contain known cancer-causing ingredients and are not known to cause or exacerbate asthma. In addition, its consumer information attributes health benefits like reduced stress, increased productivity and enhanced mood with the use of “air care” products.
There are currently no recalls of these products due to health concerns, and no government agencies have issued any warnings to consumers based on the results of these studies.
So what’s the bottom line for consumers? As is usually the case with allegedly harmful chemicals and products, more research and investigation is required. A direct causal link between the product and specific disease states is hard to prove, and the risks to children, pets and the environment haven’t been thoroughly investigated.
In the meantime, there isn’t much information available for curious and concerned shoppers. Currently, manufacturers in Canada and the U.S. aren’t required to list all of the ingredients on the packaging. As a result, University of Washington researcher Anne Steinemann argues that consumers don’t have enough information about these products, and may even have a false sense of security about the information they do have. She, and many other researchers and activists, advocate that people need more access to information about the products they come into contact with on a daily basis, and laws need to provide better protection for customers. …”
To read the rest of the article, click here.