Whether it’s in the bathroom or throughout the whole house right before you know that guests are coming over, most of us use air fresheners to “improve” what we perceive to be poor indoor air quality, at least as far as the nose is concerned. What you may not know, however is that a study done as far back as 2006 found that people that use air fresheners even as little as once a week increase their risk (or increase the risk of those in the house with them) of asthma by almost 30%.
The reason is pretty simple. Supposed “air fresheners” rely on chemicals to eliminate or mask odors.
So what exactly might be in the air freshener you’re using?
- phthalates – The MSDS for phthalates lists the Potential Chronic Health Effects as:
“The substance may be toxic to liver, central nervous system (CNS). Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage“.
- Formaldehyde – Rather than list all the potential health hazards I’ll just give you the link to the MSDS sheet and let you read the very long list for yourself. It isn’t pretty!
- Benzene – Potential health effects: “Very hazardous in case of eye contact (irritant), of inhalation. Hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant, permeator), of ingestion. Inflammation of the eye is characterized by redness, watering, and itching.”
Again, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, read the rest of the potential health hazards on the MSDS Sheet.
- Butane – The MSDS Sheet here reads: “Individuals with pre-existing conditions of the heart, lungs, and blood may have increased susceptibility to symptoms of asphxia. Butane may hypersensitize the heart to ventricular fibrillation and arrhythmias in people taking epinephrine. “
- Acetone – Again, the MSDS sheet reads: “Hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation. Slightly hazardous in case of skin contact (permeator).”
- Amorphous Fumed Silica – This MSDS Sheet states: “Dust may be irritating to eyes and respiratory tract. Repeated exposure may cause skin dryness or cracking“.
Would any one of us willingly expose ourselves and our kids to this stuff? How is it okay for the companies that make this stuff to willingly poison our air with it?
Want to find out how you air freshener stacks up? First of all, just read the ingredients on the side of the package or can.
If your air freshener is like the one that I just pulled off the shelf, it probably doesn’t list all the ingredients. In the case of the one that I looked at it listed only Ethanol as the main active ingredients (That’s pretty bad for starters, just look at the health hazards above). Dig a little deeper by looking up the MSDS on your specific air freshener. In the case of the one I looked up here’s what the other 41% of ingredients that wasn’t listed was:
Propane 2.5 – 10%
Triethylene glycol 2.5 – 10 %
Butane 10 – 20 %
No wonder they didn’t want to list it. Ironically they label these ingredients “inactive”, in other words they do nothing except poison the air that you’re breathing.
This website checks out some of the most popular air fresheners: