Clean Air or Air Fresheners

By Clifford Woods

Do you buy air fresheners for your home or office? Hard to believe that something so small that smells so nice has ingredients in it, which are actually dangerous chemicals. These are chemicals that you, your family or your coworkers breathe in on a daily basis. And to make it worse, there are no labeling requirements to warn you and even "natural" products can contain toxic chemicals. It is virtually impossible for the average consumer to know which products may pose a risk or not. The chemicals found in air fresheners have been found to be toxic to humans and these chemicals have been recently investigated for their safety. Investigations concluded that these substances might cause or increase health problems. Air fresheners that are natural and healthy are now being used as alternatives in order to minimize health hazards and environmental pollution. Basic Ingredients in air fresheners are: • • • • Phthalates Formaldehyde Petroleum distillates DCBs

1. Phthalates are known as "endocrine disruptors" because they mimic the body's hormones and have, in laboratory animal tests, been shown to cause reproductive and neurological damage. Toxic phthalates found in some air fresheners: • • • • • Diethyl Phthalate (DEP): May cause damage to the liver and central nervous system. Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP): May cause damage to the liver and central nervous system. Diisobutyl Phthalate (DIBP): May be harmful if inhaled. May cause respiratory tract irritation. Dimethyl Phthalate (DMP): The substance is toxic to the nervous system. Diisohexyl Phthalate (DIHP): The available studies demonstrate significant effects on the male reproductive organs and developmental effects.

2. Formaldehyde (CH2O) can cause nasal cancer, respiratory tract irritation; reproductive disorders, asthma, dermatitis; multiple organ damage. 3. Petroleum distillates (PDs) - can affect the nervous system causing headache, dizziness, nausea, and loss of balance and coordination. If inhaled - can irritate the nose, throat and lungs. Petroleum Distillates are on the Right to Know Hazardous Substance List because they are cited by OSHA, DOT, NIOSH and IARC. This chemical is on the Special Health Hazard Substance List. 4. Dichlorobenzene (DCBs) - there are three forms of dichlorobenzene. These chemicals are man-made and do not occur in nature. 1,2-Dichlorobenzene, 1,3-Dichlorobenzene, 1,4-Dichlorobenzene • • • 1,2-Dichlorobenzene: This substance is toxic to kidneys, liver, mucous membranes. 1,3-Dichlorobenzene: Very little is known about the humna health effects of this substance. 1,4-Dichlorobenzene: This substance is toxic to kidneys, lungs, liver, mucous membranes. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage. Repeated or prolonged inhalation of dust may lead to chronic respiratory irritation.

Some Helpful Tips 1. Read the lables and you may be able to identify phthalates in some products by their chemical names or abbreviations:(DEP)(DBP)(DIBP)(DIHP) • DBP (dibutyl phthalate) and DEP (diethyl phthalate) are often found in nail polishes, deodorants, perfumes, cologne, aftershave lotions, shampoos, hair gels and hand lotions. DEHP (di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) is used in PVC plastics, including some medical devices. BzBP (benzylbutyl phthalate) is used in some flooring, car products and personal care products.

• •

Be wary of the term "fragrance," which is used to with a combination of compounds, possibly including phthalates, which are a subject of recent concern because of studies showing they can mimic certain hormones.

Preventative Measures • Ventilation: Good ventilation systems reduce the need for air fresheners by stopping the need to cover up odors and naturally eliminate unpleasant odors. Air fresheners cannot substitute for adequate ventilation. • Use Air Fresheners Less: Chemical air fresheners do not remove odors, they simply mask over them. So avoid using air fresheners as often, but when necessary use as little as possible in order to reduce the amount of hazardous chemicals in the air. Air fresheners should only be programmed to run if needed and should only be used for odors that are unable to avoid. Use Natural and Safe Air Freshener Alternatives: many products are available that offer healthy alternatives to commercial air fresheners. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Organic Odor Control Organic soy and beeswax candles Natural potpourri Fresh flowers or herbs Natural essential oils Baking soda

Businesses that are looking to find non-toxic air fresheners should investigate available products to ensure not only their own health but also the health of their employees.
References: United States Environmental Protection Agency Science Lab Sigma Aldrich ECHA - European Chemicals Agency Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS): Formaldehyde Refuels Recycling Contaminated Fuels State of New Jersey

*** Clifford Woods is the CEO of Effective Environmental Services and Organic Environmental Technology Find out more about Organic Odor Control We brew Beneficial Microorganisms that eat toxins and offer Environmentally Friendly products

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful