Air Fresheners: Are They Good Or Bad For You?

Although everyone doesn’t want a home that smells bad, not all air fresheners work equally well. Some could even cause indoor air quality problems. You can compare the effectiveness of different air fresheners to mask pet smells, bathroom odors, and leftover cooking smells.

Types Of Air Fresheners

Aerosol Sprays

These are the most commonly used air fresheners in American homes. A canister of air freshener is often left on the counter in the bathroom for people to spray after they use the facilities. They quickly mask any offensive odors.

Plug in Air Fresheners

Plug-in air fresheners use heat from an electrical outlet to release fragrance. They contain small amounts of liquid or gel that releases fragrance continuously. These are often found in the kitchen or bathroom, which can be notoriously stale.

Gel Air Fresheners

Gel air fresheners are often found in glass and plastic containers. They release their scent through evaporation. The gel can be exposed to more or less air, depending on how strong the scent is.

Reed Diffusers

They consist of a small glass container containing fragrant oil. The oil slowly wicks up and the room is scented as you place thin bamboo reeds inside the bottle. Safety of reed diffusers depends on the oil they diffuse.

Scented Candles

The most popular way to freshen up your home is to light candles, especially around holidays.

The dangers of chemical air fresheners

Each type of air freshener is described in a way that makes them seem safe and attractive. Concerns have been raised about the health hazards posed by chemicals used in air fresheners.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, for example, filed a petition with Environmental Protection Agency in 2007 to report that 12 out of 14 air fresheners they had tested contained dangerous chemicals. These chemicals can worsen asthma and other respiratory conditions and even cause hormone disruptions, according to the NRDC.

In 2008, a University of Washington study revealed that most top-selling air fresheners contained carcinogenic chemicals (VOCs) and volatile organic compounds. These can cause nausea, headaches, brain damage, shortness of breathe, and other health problems.

A 2009 University of West Georgia study found that 24% of the general population and 34% of those suffering from asthma experience headaches, respiratory problems or other symptoms when they are exposed to chemical fresheners.

VOCs and carcinogens can be released by all of the above-mentioned air fresheners, which could cause health problems for sensitive people.

Black Soot Deposition from Candles

Black soot is a particularly frightening property of candles. According to the EPA and American Lung Association, breathing in particulate matter less than 2.5 microns is harmful for human health.

It is important to use soy candles or beeswax candles that have cotton wicks. Trim the wick to a quarter inch before each use. Keep the candle out of drafts and keep it burning for at least one hour.

Go Natural Instead

These tips will help you avoid chemical air fresheners.

  • When the weather permits, open the windows.
  • Make sure to boil water with cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and cloves around the holidays.
  • Use essential oils in combination with distilled water to diffuse.
  • Air-cleaning houseplants are a great addition to your home.

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