Air Fresheners/Deodorizers

In 2005, the Bureau European des Unions de Consommateurs published a comparative study about home fragrances and measured the concentration of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and aldehydes, potent neurotoxins that attack the central and peripheral nervous systems, in the air after their use.

In many cases levels of potent neurotoxins in the air were much higher than the ‘safe’ VOC dose of 200 µg/m3. In some cases they were as high as 4000– 5000 µg/m3. (µg/m3 = micrograms per cubic meter, a measure of concentration of chemicals in a volume of air)

Hazardous Ingredients:

ehyl or isopropyl alcohol
glycol ethers
Petroleum distillates
P- dischlorobenzene
Aerosol propelants
Usually butane, isobutane, or propane
artificial musk

Proper Use and Disposal:
Always follow the instructions on the label and never spray aerosol air fresheners towards the body or face.

Keep solid air fresheners out of reach of pets or children, as they can be deadly if ingested.

Use up the air freshener in its entirety before disposing. Recycle the empty vessel. If you have not used all of the air freshener, bring it to your local community collection center. To find an Oregon location near you, visit

Health Hazards:

Air fresheners are highly flammable.
Air fresheners are highly irritating to eyes, skin, and throat.
Solid air fresheners usually cause death if ingested by pets or people.
Most of the ingredients used in air fresheners are highly toxic.
Ethyl/isopropyl alcohol can be extremely dangerous if absorbed through the skin, inhaled, or ingested. Symptoms include naesea, vommiting, depression, headache, dizziness, anesthesia and possible coma.
Formaldehyde, if inhaled, can cause difficulty breathing, trigger an asthma attack, cause throat irritation and induce headache. It is also an irritant to mucous membranes.
P- dichlorobenzene can cause headaches, dizziness, and liver damage.
Some propellants, such as butane, can cause drowsiness, narcosis, asphyxia, and cardiac arythmia
Limonene an irritant is toxic to marine life with acute exposure to limonene.

The most helpful tip in staying away from the use of air fresheners is preventing bad smells. Keep your home clean (particularly the kitchen) and ventilate your house by opening your windows and doors when possible.

Use trash cans with lids to prevent smells eminating from the trash can.

To keep your carpet smelling fresh, sprinkle baking soda in the fibers and vacuum regularly.

Some alternatives to air fresheners include organic essential oils which are harmless to your health and your home’s indoor air quality. They can be placed in a reusable vessel to minimize waste as well.

Potpourri, sage, and other such plant based alternatives work wonders as well.

Alternatives: Keep your home clean and well ventilated. If you must spray, make sure you are using natural essential oils and pump, rather than aerosol, sprays. Potpourri is an alternative way to scent your home.

Title: Behind the label: Air Fresheners - Beware!
Artificial scents can mask a multitude of harmful ingredients.

Source:  Ecologist [0261-3131] yr:2005 vol:35 iss:10 pg:38


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