Aerosol sprays. Electric plug ins. Scented Candles. Diffusers. There's a wide variety of air fresheners on the market and an even larger selection of scents. You might love walking into a home that smells like fresh summer rain or apple pie, but your sweet smelling home may be seriously damaging to your health. According to Scientific American, your air freshener is slowly poisoning you.
While scented candles have been around for ages, the air freshener market surged in the 1990s when the plug-in variety hit stores. Plug-in air fresheners were sold to consumers as a high tech and convenient way to keep their homes scented for longer periods of time. They're easy to use. Just plug in. Affordable. And were thought to be a healthy alternative to aerosol sprays. Fast forward over twenty years later and researchers have found that air fresheners release an alarming amount of toxic chemicals with serious effects on human health.
Why did it take so long for to discover the hazardous effects of this "convenient" product? While studying the effects of air fresheners on human health, The Natural Resources Defense Council also discovered they undergo NO safety testing. The results of their study were equally disturbing. Air fresheners release high levels of phthalates, a chemical often left off the list of ingredients. When phthalates are listed on a product, this chemical is usually described as "all natural" and "unscented", but the NRDC says otherwise.
"Phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals that can be particularly dangerous for young children and unborn babies. Exposure to phthalates can affect testosterone levels and lead to reproductive abnormalities, including abnormal genitalia and reduced sperm production. The State of California notes that five types of phthalates -- including one that we found in air freshener products -- are 'known to cause birth defects or reproductive harm," claims The Natural Resources Defense Council.
Another surprising chemical found in the majority of air fresheners was Dichlorobenzene, a carcinogenic chemical that's linked to lung damage and increased rates of asthma. It's also found in the blood of 96% of Americans. This disruptive chemical helps air fresheners appear to eliminate odors more than they actually do.
Dichlorobenzene works by attacking the receptors in your nose, which deteriorates your sense of smell over time. Aside from harsh scented chemicals, air fresheners actually "freshen" by destroying your ability to detect strong odors. Users get a waft of the scents released from the air freshener for about a minute before the nose can't smell most fragrances anymore. Including that pesky odor you wanted to mask. Turns out it's still lingering, you just can't smell it anymore.
If you wanted to escape a bright light, would the solution be to slowly blind yourself with a carcinogenic chemical? Procter & Gamble, the company first responsible for putting Dichlorobenzene on the market, seems to think destroying your sense of smell is a valid solution to masking unwanted odors. These nerve-deadening chemicals also cause headaches, nausea, the development of neurological damage and cancer.
If you use air fresheners regularly and noticed you've put on some unwanted weight your chemically fresh home could be to blame. Harmful chemicals emitted from air fresheners build up in the fatty tissue over time, which can make weight lose extremely difficult. Why? Fat retention is often your immune systems defense against bigger dangers to your health.
Your body uses fat to store toxic material because it's often safer than exposing the chemicals to your internal organs. Breaking down the extra fat can mean releasing a heavy load of toxins.
So what is the healthy alternative to using air fresheners? Luckily there are a variety of non toxic alternatives that will leave your home smelling fresh without polluting your indoor air or body. Beeswax candles, organic essential oils, and DIY air mists are all safe and effective ways to mask unwanted smells.
Bringing the outdoors in is the greenest way to keep your home fresh and detoxify any lingering chemicals in the air. Air purifying house plants like the Ficus Lyrata and Peace Lily are beautiful decoration with serious air filtering abilities. But nothing beats good ol fashioned fresh air. Proper indoor ventilation and air flow neutralizes odors and is essential for keeping your home and body healthy.
Ditch your chemical air freshener for these popular non toxic alternatives.