Are Air Fresheners Safe To Use?
If you’ve ever experienced a sudden uncontrollable coughing fit straight after being exposed to a seemingly lovely-smelling spray of air freshener, this post may interest you. No matter how natural the name of an air freshener sounds – with lavender, camomile, vanilla, milk and honey and more natural ingredients frequently being used to name such products – the ingredients found in most of them tell a different story, and prove that product names can often be somewhat misleading. We take a look at the facts to help establish the truth!
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Do Air Fresheners Release Harmful Chemicals?
Some critics of air fresheners say that many contain synthetic chemicals that could potentially be harmful. They call for more scrutinised testing, strict regulations and clear, no-nonsense labelling. Tepenes, Naphthalene, dichlorobenzene and “parfum” are all ingredients found in air fresheners that have been under scrutiny by experts, including campaign groups such as Greenpeace and WWF. Like anything else, volatile substances can be harmful given a high enough dose — whether they come from natural or “man-made” sources. So what’s the deal?
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) come from a variety of sources, not just air fresheners, and are common chemical contaminants found in indoor air such as the home and office. Other sources of VOCs include paints and varnishes, adhesives and other scented products. The problem with air fresheners however, is that many users don’t realise that aside from the scent released, they actually negatively impact air quality. Moreover, they ‘could make babies and mothers ill, with 32% more babies suffering diarrhoea in homes where air fresheners (including sticks, sprays and aerosols) were used daily, compared with homes where they were used once a week or less. They also suffered significantly more from earache.’
So should we stop using air fresheners? While some of these products may aggravate or cause symptoms in highly sensitive persons, in moderation, air fresheners are fine to use. The UK Cleaning Products Industry Association offer a reasonable approach, saying: “Air fresheners are subject to stringent evaluation before products are brought to the market. Air fresheners are safe when used as and where directed. Current air freshener labels are appropriate and informative. Individuals who suffer an allergic reaction caused by any product should stop using the product.”
This may not help those who are subjected to air fresheners involuntary, such as in shops and workplace restrooms where automatic systems are in place, but it does let us know, somewhat matter-of-factly, that air fresheners are safe when used correctly.
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