A Life In Progress

It’s in the Air December 16, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — jdalsin @ 8:23 pm

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.


7 Responses to “It’s in the Air”

  1. Tanya Says:

    I also don’t use air freshners in our house. I have plants that pull out the toxins, and I know that essential oil can give good scents, dabbed on a cotton ball and placed somewhere. In fact when my mom comes to visit and puts one of her cotton balls of essential oils in our guest room it smells like that for months. (I do use reed diffusers though that are alcohol free. I am not sure if those have the same things)

  2. kelly Says:

    I am so glad to read this here. It is so true and so important to understand. most of things that have been created to give us “clean smelling, fresch scented, germ free, deoderizing” homes are killing people. I have read so many places how the cleaning products are so much more harmful than the actual germ we are trying to eradicate.

    If you look back through time, no one spoke of cancer. If you wanted a fresh smelling room, you opened a window! wow- imagine that- fresh scented coming straight from outside and not in a bottle?

    We scour and bleach and scrub our childrens bathrooms and bedrooms and fill their little bodies full of toxic, harmful, life threatening materials because we have been brainwashed by people out to make millions of of us because they prey on our fear of having germs around. Germs we dont want our children to pick up.

    Sorry if I sound a bit high strung. The ‘machine’ (the companies marketing and selling these dangerous products) really get to me.

    It can be hard to understand how many things we have in our homes that are supposed to make our dwellings look crisp and sparkling clean (which in turn makes us seem like we run a healthy hom- like the old addage that if you are tanned you look healthy- well we all know where that went)

    Floor cleaners that promise fresh pine scent or citrus zest. Room spray that gives your home a feeling of coziness because you just loaded it up with chemicals that smell like cinammon- Now we just either bake a pie or boil some water with nutmeg and cinammon in it.

    It s everywhere and although I may sound like I am going overboard, it is important for our kids to have safe and healthy and toxic free homes.

    We wouldn’t take our kids for a walk through an orchard that has just been sprayed with harmful pesticides, so why purposefully spray our rooms with similar chemicals where our families play? There is a reason those signs are displayed to stay out.

    Bravo to you for having this blog!!

  3. kelly Says:


    This reminds me a bit about my diet pop dilemma. I was a drinker of diet pop and unfortunately succumb to the temptation now and again. But I remember when sugar got a really bad rap. everything became sugar free. now we have aspartame, Nutrasweet, Splenda… and although these things were approved by the FDa, I believe they were once removed from stores after research showed that Aspartame (which is in diet Coke and all diet drinks) creates a byproduct of Formaldehyde (Found in tobacco smoke, fires, and car exhaust!!) but even though it has been shown to cause all sorts of health and mental health problems, it was out back on the shelves because the levels werent considered ‘high enough’. mmm… Could be also because diet pop industries are big money makers…

    Just a thought.

  4. jdalsin Says:

    Yes! We don’t use anything that is a chemical substitute like Splenda, etc. Aspartame is all sorts of terrible and the only time it enters our home is on the rare occasion we drink pop. My naturopath even said that it’s been to eat the full fat versions of things that it is to introduce those chemicals and that even with pop, it’s better to have the full sugar version than it is to have the diet pops containing asparatame.

    \Thanks for your comment

  5. jdalsin Says:

    Great tip Tanya! I think I’ll try that.

  6. Amanda Brown Says:

    You blasphemer! Diet coke is my favourite health food. 🙂

  7. Miriam Says:

    Thanks for posting the link to the article… I have forwarded it to several people in the hopes that they will start minimizing, or stop using altogether, the use of these products!

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