Do you use air fresheners at home? These are the dire consequences

We all use it sometimes to mask unpleasant odors: air fresheners. But these delicious aromas carry great dangers to human health. Spray can, oil, scented candle or gel, the product doesn’t matter. If it promises to remove odors, it likely contains toxins that can seriously deteriorate indoor air quality. But what about that? And how harmful is it?

We use these pleasant scents after a visit to the toilet to mask the smell of a pet or at a romantic dinner. However, it is dangerous for all visitors and residents of the house. Air fresheners rely on chemicals to create scents and make them linger in the air. “To a chemist, ‘really clean’ won’t smell because the smell is from a chemical,” Ryan Sullivan, assistant professor of chemistry and mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, told the paper. Washington Post. “Really clean means very low levels of chemicals.”

Some people use air fresheners daily. However, everyday products, according to scientists, are full of chemicals that can cause hormonal disruptions and respiratory problems. In many cases, consumers who use air fresheners do not know what is in the product and whether it is toxic. “It’s hard for people to accept that something you buy in the store is bad for you, your family, and pets,” says Sullivan, who has studied environmental chemistry for 11 years.

What chemicals are in air fresheners?

Air fresheners emit more than a hundred chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene. Some of these substances have been linked to various types of cancer in high doses. These chemicals react with naturally occurring particles in the air to create pollutants that reduce indoor air quality.

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Sullivan says the “major components” that cause air pollution are volatile organic compounds, such as oxidants, and sunlight. In homes, fluorescent lights, which emit ultraviolet light, can act as an alternative to sunlight. Many odorous molecules react with oxidants, such as those from gas stoves.

effects on our health

The effects of air fresheners vary from person to person or animal. Moreover, it also depends on the chemicals in the product. People with asthma or allergies may be more sensitive to scented products, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Environmental Working Group is a Washington-based nonprofit organization focused on research and advocacy. The organization has evaluated several air fresheners and more than 75 percent of air fresheners contain “potential” or “potentially significant” health or environmental risks. The evaluation took into account whether the makers of the products disclosed the ingredients in them.

Exposure to high levels of VOCs can lead to various health problems, such as migraine headaches, asthma attacks, breathing difficulties, and neurological problems. Short-term exposure may irritate the eyes, throat, and nose and cause nausea.

cause of cancer

Over time, reactions to air fresheners can get worse. So says Claudia Miller, MD, professor emeritus in the department of family and community medicine at the University of Texas Health and Science Center at San Antonio. Their chemicals can first responders In the immune system, such as mast cells. “It causes allergic reactions,” says Miller. This can lead to inflammation, disease and increased chemical intolerance after repeated exposure. Once cells become sensitive to VOCs, they become more susceptible to being affected by them.

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Sullivan’s main concern is the chronic effects of air fresheners and cleaning products that contain chemicals that can cause cancer or disrupt hormones. Some of these chemicals, such as phthalates, have toxic effects in low doses and low concentrations. Our natural hormone system is designed to respond to low hormone levels,” he says. “Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are often included in perfume ingredient lists, but do not need to be disclosed.”

Are “green” air fresheners safe?

According to Sullivan, air fresheners labeled organic, non-toxic, green, or all-natural can emit potentially dangerous chemicals. He adds that there is very limited data on the toxicity of various chemicals in everyday products. “It’s really hard to judge toxicity.” The NRDC researchers found in their analysis that even “natural” products can contain toxic chemicals. “The regulations in the US about what you can put in cleaning products and certainly in air fresheners are quite loose,” says Sullivan. In the United States, product makers are not required to disclose all chemicals in their products.

But what is the solution?

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends limiting the use of products with strong scents, especially in indoor spaces with poor ventilation. Essential oils may be the safest option for getting your indoors to smell good, but before using them, check the ingredients first. For diffusion options, Sullivan recommends using reed diffusers, such as oil-absorbing and scent-releasing sticks. A mister-type diffuser that sprays essential oil into water is also a good solution. You can inhale essential oils using a spray bottle.

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Do you use air fresheners for bad smells? These are the serious consequences for your health

Megan Vasquez

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