The Dangers of Chemical Air Fresheners

Dr. Purushothaman
July 31, 2018

There are certain odors inside the house which are very unpleasant. There are certain times when you might feel that the atmosphere inside your car is dull. The solution you think of to solve these certainties is to use air fresheners. Spray air fresheners, plug-ins, beads, gels -- air fresheners come in different types with the same goal which is to freshen up the vibe and make pleasant the scent in your place. They’re usual and most likely chemical air fresheners.

Although chemical air fresheners do well for houses, rooms and cars, remember that still, they have some drawbacks. I remember studying in elementary talking about products that harm the ozone layer, and one of them is a [spray] air freshener. Now, being a grown-up, I found that there’s so much more to its possible harms than just being harmful to the ozone layer.

Let’s talk about the health risks of using chemical air fresheners. Here are 4!

Effects of Ozone on Health
I’ve mentioned it earlier, and it’s always mentioned, but it’s important to talk about it, really. Air fresheners contain aerosol, a chemical compound that damages the ozone layer, the layer that protects us all from the sun’s rays. Aside from that, aerosols can also damage human health in terms of serious breathing difficulties and skin asthma.

When the sun is not hindered as it hits the Earth due to the destruction of the ozone layer, then humans will experience more heat, global warming, disruptive environmental issues, and health concerns, mainly concerning increase in Ultraviolet levels.

General Health Hazards
Air fresheners contain chemicals called phthalates. These chemicals damage hormones, leading to problems such as imbalance, sperm quality and count reduction, birth deformities and infertility.

Too much unhealthy exposure to phthalate also increases the risk of cancer. They harm human health through continual absorption through the lungs and the skin. You might think that they’re just used to freshen up the surroundings and to create a pleasant smell, but be careful in using them and getting exposed to them because unfortunately, they can harm your health in a life-changing way.

Some Common ill effects
Chemical air fresheners, release a scent that covers up all the disgusting smell in the area and around it. The sad thing about it is that the smell also wears off after some time and you, again, spray some air freshener. These fresheners mask the awful odor, but do not totally eliminate where it comes from.

The tendency is that when the air smells good, you feel like the area is clean and fresh, when in fact, it’s just the smell that makes you feel that way. One unfortunate result is that you don’t pay much attention anymore to manually clean the area in detail. You know how humans can become too complacent at times just because the situation seems “alright” --- in this case, the surroundings smell great. That, of course, is not good for the health of everyone that lives and goes in your house or rides in your car. There are dust particles that affect human health, and it is scary to think that you’re inside an enclosed vehicle or room together with harmful chemicals and unpleasant odor. Your health is put in danger, and you don’t even know because you think the area smells nice and is all-clean.

Problems with Toxic Chemicals
There are other chemicals present in air fresheners aside from the ones mentioned above. Some include formaldehyde, which may cause vomiting, breathing troubles and skin vexations. Paradichlorobenzene in air fresheners may damage the liver and reduce healthy red blood cells. Petroleum may cause damage and infection to the lungs. Ethanol, toluene and other chemicals used to let air fresheners give off fragrance may be detrimental to human health.

Overall Danger
What you read above are the health harms that chemical air fresheners can bring to you and the people you love right there and then inside the “comforts” of your houses and your personal cars. But worry not! Why? Because there are ways by which you can let your house smell well and your health be good as well.

Some helpful measures
The following are the measures you should take to skip over the harms brought by chemical air fresheners. If you want a good smell and a healthy home, here are 4 ways you could help yourself.

If there is a distressing smell in your house or in your car, do not be afraid to unlock the windows -- mostly advisable for rural areas or those with lesser vehicles. Sometimes, people just open the car windows if he/she is going to throw something outside (which is bad!) or when someone farted in! Well, this is another reason for you to open your car’s windows.

It’s the easiest way for you to shoo the bad odor away and welcome the fresh air in. You’re not just pushing away the health risk, but also getting in health bonuses from clean, fresh air. Don’t think that just because you have a nice house, you also need a chemical air freshener. You know you can just open the window, and feel the fresh air! Come to think of it: air conditioners already have some health cons, especially if not properly maintained. If you’re going to add more of those harmful chemical air fresheners, that’d be unhealthier.

If the bad smell doesn’t go out of the window, then have something that will absorb it instead. You can actually make your own. You might need tough containers with effective lids or spray bottles as holders, baking soda and healthy oils properly mixed following a step-by-step process to create your own scent.

Not just used as a condiment for food, white vinegar can also be applied to fabric or any hard surfaces to remove odor. Sometimes, the odor doesn’t come directly from the air, but from the stuff which might have been spilled to with smelly liquids. Activated charcoal pouches are also great odor absorbers which you can put anywhere that doesn’t smell good.

One natural way that helps even without intentionally doing it is using citrus fruit peels. Peels from orange, lemons, limes and other citrus fruits smell very good! They turn a bad mood into a good one. Their smells are so pleasing to the nose and to the heart. Fruit peels make the air refreshing. The smell makes you feel like it soothes your nostrils down to your lungs!

It’s up to you if you want to gather in one container all the peels and make them into one air freshener or odor absorber, or gather them all inside the disgusting garbage so it’ll adapt the smell instead of spreading bad vibes around.

Even though air fresheners have health disadvantages, that does not mean that they’re not helpful and that they can be used no more! There are all-natural and organic air fresheners for sale which you can use instead of those with harmful chemicals. Today, people are becoming more and more concerned with the environment, and you can surely find a lot of natural-made air fresheners out there.

Of course, you have to really check the ingredients list to see if it’s really natural or misleading. Some sellers might take advantage of the trend and awareness today regarding natural products for environmental health and safety, so be careful!

Final Advice
In everything people do, there are dangers most especially if it’s too much or done improperly. Air fresheners are made to eliminate bad, unhealthy odors, yet there are effects that harm health too. That doesn’t disable air freshener manufacturers to produce their products and consumers to buy air fresheners; we all just really need to be extra careful that we’re not getting too much of the chemicals present in those products. They’re important too, but they can be dangerous.

This piece of advice is addressed most especially to consumers and users of chemical air fresheners at home, in the office, inside the car or just wherever suitable and needed. Use air fresheners properly and responsibly. Always check the label to know the ingredients, and don’t be hesitant if you feel like looking up what those ingredients are all about. That may sound too “overacting” on it, but there’s no harm in making sure of your health’s safety and of your loved ones’ too.

Chemicals included in air fresheners are present there simply because they have benefited too. Just make sure, as a user, to know the advantages and disadvantages of those chemicals as well. Check the label, and if there’s too much harmful chemicals, don’t purchase and use it. Choose the natural ones that’d be really helpful and healthy for the environment, but see to it that they aren’t just “natural” on the label.

Remember that air fresheners, more than just being accessories in cars and in houses, are health-related products made for human health, affecting human health in both negative and positive ways. Using them must be with proper care and awareness.

The Article contributed by Nicole Ann Pore, a blogger, who graduated Cum Laude from De La Salle University Manila, Philippines with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts.

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