Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Air Fresheners - The Chemical Fresheners

Like fragrance, the air fresheners are responsible for high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the home. A study made at University of Bristol examining the effects of air fresheners and aerosols, showed that the frequent use during pregnancy and early childhood was associated with higher levels of diarrhea, earache and other symptoms in infants, as well as headaches and depression in mothers.

“32% more babies suffered diarrhea in homes where air fresheners (including sticks, sprays and aerosols) were used every day, compared with homes where they were used once a week or less. They also suffered more from earache.

Air fresheners and aerosols also affected mothers, with those who used them daily suffering nearly 10% more headaches. 16% of mothers who used fresheners reported depression, compared with 12.7% of those who seldom used them. This represents an increased risk of over 26%.”

A report prepared by the California Air Resources Board showed that the use of some air fresheners in presence of ozone can produce toxic pollutants of serious health concern. These pollutants include formaldehyde (a known human carcinogen and a respiratory irritant) acetaldehyde, organic acids, hydrogen peroxide, secondary organic aerosol, and hydroxyl radicals. According to the California Air Resources Board, air cleaners or air “purifiers” that intentionally produce ozone should never be used; they emit very high levels of ozone, a reactive gas that is harmful to human health.

I do not use air fresheners at all, I like to keep the windows open and get some fresh air from outside. Here are some tips to get rid of the smell:
- open the windows for some fresh air; even the air from outside is not perfectly fresh and clean is far better than the chemicals from the air fresheners;
- clean the source of odor with non-toxic products or use natural ways to get rid of it: baking soda, vinegar, squeeze a fresh lemon, simmer some cinnamon or fresh ginger, or use some organic sachets of lavender;
- empty the garbage regularly;
- pet smells and other foul smells are only disolved by enzymes (and that's why european detergents are all the rage and are slowly showing up in the "green" detergents in the US).

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