Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Air Fresheners May Pose Health Risks When Used Indoors

Do you use air fresheners to keep your home or office smelling fresh and clean? 
You know that while these products are great at covering up odors, but did you know they also could be putting your health at risk! 

What these companies fail to tell you is that there are dangerous chemicals in them.  Air fresheners could be a trigger that may cause people to go into a severe and in some cases, deadly asthma attack!

According to a European Consumers Union study, many air fresheners contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are known to cause cancer in humans. Some, such as formaldehyde, can cause cancer of the upper respiratory tract.
In the article, "Chemical in Many Air Fresheners May Reduce Lung Function" published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) on July 27, 2006, NIEHS studies show that 1,4 dichlorobenzene, a specific type of VOC, causes decreased lung function. Lead researcher Stephanie London, M.D. suggests protecting yourself and your family by reducing your use of air fresheners.

Most products tested in the European Consumers Union study also contained various allergens. Rashes or respiratory distress develop in reaction to these substances in susceptible individuals.

Most people will probably use air fresheners from time to time and should follow a few guidelines. Don't use these products around children, pregnant women or pets. Avoid use around individuals with medical conditions such as asthma or other respiratory illnesses as well.  Use in moderation and only occasionally to lower the risks associated with long-term exposure to such chemicals.

New research shows that a chemical compound found in many air fresheners, toilet bowl cleaners, mothballs and other deodorizing products, may be harmful to the lungs.
"Even a small reduction in lung function may indicate some harm to the lungs," said NIEHS researcher Stephanie London, M.D., lead investigator on the study. "The best way to protect yourself, especially children who may have asthma or other respiratory illnesses, is to reduce the use of products and materials that contain these compounds."

University of Washington professor Anne Steinemann found in a study that over a third (37 percent) of people with asthma said they suffered adverse health effects after being exposed to an air freshener. Those that suffer from asthma or lung diseases will have lungs that are sensitive to anything that isn't natural in the air.  Even 20 percent of people who didn't have asthma reported ill health effects after coming into contact with air fresheners. If there isn't enough ventilation in the room, you have a much greater chance of inhaling hazardous chemicals.

Some fresheners are designed to directly restrict your sense of smell. One of the chemicals is formaldehyde, which can cause long-term damage to your nasal passages. It is also known to be a cause of cancer.

Chemicals are released into the atmosphere every time an air freshener is used, a number of which are damaging to the environment. They can even react with ozone and produce toxic compounds. One of those compounds is smog.

SO - let me ask you a question? 
Are you going to keep using these products in your home?
If you’ve ever had a problem with air fresheners, drop us a note and let us know the effect they had on you. We’ll share your story with our friends.
All the best
Lou & Debbie


  1. Thank you for the article on air fresheners. I have multiple chemical sensitivity. Air fresheners make me very sick. I get a headache, nausea, and can not breath, when I am exposed. It takes hours to recover. The smell gets in my hair and clothing and takes many hours to leave. I have experienced problems with air fresheners in doctors offices, dentist offices, and even churches. A dentist refused to treat me because I was sensitive to the air freshener in her office. People become offended when you ask them to remove an air freshener. I even had to leave an apartment because my upstairs neighbor was using air fresheners.

    Thanks for helping to educate on the health dangers of air fresheners.

  2. The biggest problem that was not mentioned is the use of fragranced laundry soap and softeners. People want to smell good, but do not realize that it is at the cost of their health. It is absorbed through their skin and inhaled by their lungs all day and all night. The kidneys and liver are slowly damaged as they struggle to clean the toxins out of their bodies.

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  4. I was sent a link to this by my mother-in-law. We hardly ever use air fresheners, and never use them around the children so I'm not sure why she thought this might be information I should have. In any event, I'm commenting here due to the first paragraph of this article.

    "You know that while these products are great at covering up odors, but did you know they also could be putting your health at risk!"

    This is incorrect grammar. The word "but" should not be here at all. If eliminated, it would make slightly more sense, but even then it would be grammatically wrong.

    This should read:
    "While you know that these products are great at covering up odors, you probably don't know that they could be putting your health at risk!"

    I'm not trying to be rude, I simply can't stand incorrect grammar, and thought that perhaps you might want to correct this, or get a better proof-reader.

  5. Thank you for this excellent posting, Lou and Debbie--grammatical error and all. 8 )

    It's been a long time since I've used complex cleaning agents in my home environment, Lou and Debbie. In recent years, however, I've found that low-tech materials work just as well as highly-perfumed and chemical-laden ones.

    At the top of my list are baking soda, borax, white vinegar, chlorine bleach (very seldom used) and laundry soda. Also, I've recently begun making my own laundry detergent and have found it to be economical, pleasant to use, and does what I expect it to do.

    As our economy spirals downward, many Americans have begun to consider more closely where their money goes. Perhaps the trend will be toward less expensive cleaning products such as the ones I mentioned, and more thriftiness and resourcefulness in other areas of their lives in general.

    I visit your blog semi-regularly, but have been spotty about commenting; I'll try to do better from now on. This is an informative, well-crafted blog and I wish there were more traffic here.

    You've offered some good food for thought today; thank you, and keep up the good work!