DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd.
Indoor Air Quality and Environmental Experts

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Do you use air fresheners in your home or your car? If so, you’re a lot like most people. It’s natural to want your environment to smell fresh and pleasant, especially considering that there are numerous products on the market that offer up a wide variety of sweet scents. However, if you’re one of the many individuals who use aerosol sprays and other air freshening mechanisms, you are creating an unhealthy living space.

As April McCarthy informs us on PreventDisease.com, artificial fragrance sales exceed $8 billion a year although they emit “toxic fumes”. Among the health ramifications of spraying your air with such products are headaches, earaches, depression, allergies, irregular heartbeat and even diarrhea, she notes. “Fragrance can be made up of more than 100 chemicals, most of which are synthetic, and most of these chemicals are harming our health,” writes McCarthy.

What chemicals in air fresheners are causing the most damage? McCarthy reveals that phthalates are regularly used in common household air fresheners in order to prolong the length of time that the scented products maintain their fragrances. Phthalates, in fact, are also used as plastic softeners, anti-foaming agents in aerosols, in vinyl found in children’s toys, automobiles, paints, pesticides and in cosmetics and fragrances.

According to a 2007 Natural Resources Defense Council report, 12 of 14 brands of common household air fresheners contained phthalates, reports McCarthy. “Regular exposure to phthalates can increase your risk of experiencing endocrine, reproductive, and developmental problems,” she reveals, “Amazingly, some of the brands that tested positive for phthalates did not include phthalates on their lists of ingredients; some of these brands were even labeled as being ‘all-natural’ and ‘unscented.’”

The NRDC also points out that exposure to phthalates can interfere with the production of the male hormone testosterone which can be linked to reproductive abnormalities. However, phthalates are far from the only chemical found in air fresheners that can be hazardous to our health.

What other dangerous chemicals are found in air fresheners? On Grandparents.com, Sara Schwartz reminds us that air fresheners also contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They include such toxic chemicals as acetone, ethanol, d-limonene, pinene, and acetate. “Depending on your exposure and sensitivity, toxic VOCs can produce a range of health effects, including eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea and headaches, and even damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system,” she explains.

What chemical-free ways can we freshen the air in our homes? According to Dr. Anne Steinemann, who is a professor of civil engineering at the University of Melbourne, the best smell is no smell at all. In Schwartz’s article, she advises opening up the windows even for a short period each day. And yes, this includes the wintertime. “Why use an air freshener at all? It’s not designed to clean and disinfect the air; it’s a chemical mixture that masks odor,” she is quoted as saying.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we agree that having fresh air in the home is of major importance. However, maintaining a living environment that is free of harmful chemicals is most ideal. We offer Air Quality Services to help target any problems areas of your home to ensure that you are enjoying the best indoor air quality possible. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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