The that indoor air is often 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. And according to Anne C. Steinemann, Ph.D. – an environmental engineering professor at the University of Washington – the contents of many air freshener brands and scented products may actually INCREASE indoor pollution. Dr. Steinemann became interested in air fresheners and other household products after hearing numerous reports from people who believed these items made them feel sick. When she conducted a chemical analysis of three best- selling air fresheners and three laundry products, she says, "I was surprised by both the number and the potential toxicity of the chemicals that were found." To avoid legal issues, Dr. Steinemann didn't reveal any brand names of the products tested.
- In six products, Dr. Steinemann found nearly 100 (VOCs)
- 10 of the VOCs are regulated as either toxic or hazardous
- Three are classified as carcinogenic , which have no safe exposure level according to the EPA
- One of the VOCs was methyl chloride, linked to nervous system, liver, and kidney damage in animals
- Each of the six products contained at least one of the 10 toxic or hazardous VOCs
So what's the real danger in getting an occasional whiff of laundry detergent, shampoo, or air freshener?
In the e-Alert "Something in the Air" (2/14/05), I told you about a UK study in which researchers monitored VOC levels for one year in 170 homes where mothers spent their days at home with children.
- In homes where air fresheners were used daily, mothers averaged nearly 10 percent more than mothers in homes where air fresheners were used once a week or less
- In the "daily" homes, mothers had more than 25 percent higher risk of depression compared to mothers in the "once a week" homes
- In the "daily" homes, infants were 32 percent more likely to suffer from diarrhea
- Infants in the "daily" homes had a significantly higher rate of earaches than infants in "once a week" homes
Dr. Steinemann suggests that consumers avoid air fresheners and choose fragrance-free products. But beware – some manufacturers simply use a masking fragrance to neutralize the aroma of scented products.
Another thing that fragrances have that are bad for you are phytoestrogens which we know cause prostate problems in men and wreak havoc in women and mess up everyone's thyroid. Other things to avoid besides fragrances that have phyotestrogens are plastics, soy, and pesticides. Fragrances that the dear good God made are fine as in the completely natural ones found in flowers and herbs which can be distilled and found in essential oils.