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Bob Carroll
Bob Carroll
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Air Fresheners May Be Hazardous To Your Health

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Indoor air fresheners are the rage. The problem, according to Confined Space, is they may be poisoning our bodies.

If You Want Fresh Air, Open A Window

These days, when we want our house or office or store to smell better, instead of distributing flowers or a couple of bowls of potpourri, we invest in “scent systems” which spread nice smelling chemicals around the area, chemicals that my be nice for our noses, but not necessarily for our health.

Environmental health expert Albert Donnay wrote the following letter:

Penelope Green’s article on “Accessorizing the Air” (10/12/06, NYT House and Home section, page D1) with scented candles, rocks, sticks, spritzers and other types of so-called “air fresheners” should have been titled “Polluting the Air–and Our Bodies.”

Not mentioned in the article is the fact that these products all release toxic volatile organic chemicals. We only smell these chemicals when they enter our nose, and even then only until olfactory adaptation sets in. But as long as we are exposed, we continue to inhale and absorb them into our bloodstream. These chemicals also can be absorbed directly into the skin, eyes, and–via the nose–even the brain.

Among the hundreds of unregulated ingredients used in fragranced products, researchers have identified chemicals that are listed by the US EPA as hazardous, neurotoxic, carcinogenic, and teratogenic. Fragrance products designed to burn such as candles and incense also release hazardous particulate matter and carbon monoxide.

The long-term effects of inhaling these pollutants are unknown, but it is clear that even exposures of a few seconds can provoke serious respiratory and neurological symptoms in people with hypersensitivity disorders such as asthma, migraine and multiple chemical sensitivity. Most at risk are infants due to their smaller lungs and still developing nervous systems.

Unfortunately even without the use of “air fresheners,” the air inside most American homes is usually much more polluted than the air outside.

If you want fresh air, open a window!