Most people use air fresheners to mask and get rid of unpleasant odors in their homes. There are many different air fresheners on the market, from aerosol sprays to reed diffusers to gel beads to high-tech heat-activated scents. Despite the form they come in, most air fresheners contain a variety of fragrances, essential oils, and dissolvents that help carry the scent into the air. Specifically, sprayable air fresheners are most often in aerosol bottles that use compressed gas such as butane or propane.
Concerns with Air Fresheners
It is estimated that more than 300 million air fresheners were sold in the U.S. in 2017, with sprays and aerosols accounting for the most product-type sold. Despite their popularity, there are concerns that aerosol spray air fresheners increase indoor air pollution and pose health risks. Some chemicals used in these sprays are linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, and other health issues.
Air fresheners often release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. VOCs are gases emitted into the air from products that react with other gases and form secondary air pollutants. Common examples of VOCs that may be present in our daily lives are benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, xylene, phthalates, and more. Breathing in VOCs can have varying degrees of health effects such as irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat and difficulty breathing. They can even cause damage to the central nervous system and be carcinogenic.
The potential of secondary pollutants makes creating safe and clean air fresheners tricky. While it may seem as simple as eliminating the ingredients that impose an immediate risk, the substances released from the bottle can combine with other elements of the air and generate pollutants. Secondary pollutants are also a concern for human health.
In addition, companies are not required to disclose the ingredients of their fragrances as they are deemed trade secrets by the U.S FDA, which makes shopping for these types of products difficult.
Beyond that, the issue with air fresheners is not just the scent. Many solvents used in the products are also emitted into the air and are a cause for concern.
This list below (Sourced from www.madesafe.org) includes fragrance ingredients, other common air freshener ingredients, as well as secondary pollutants:
- 1,4-Diclorobenzene (1,4 DB): a VOC that may impair lung function.
- Acetaldehyde:a probable carcinogen.
- Benzene:a known carcinogen and developmental and reproductive toxin.
- d-Limonene:associated with skin and eye irritation. This substance is a sensitizer, likely increasing the odds of a future allergic reaction.
- Formaldehyde: a known carcinogen.
- Parabens:linked to breast cancer and effects associated with hormone disruption.
- Phthalates:associated with effects from endocrine disruption, including damage to the female reproductive system, birth defects, etc.
- Styrene:associated with cancer and neurotoxicity.
- Toluene:linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity.
- Xylene: linked to the effects of central nervous system depression, like headache, dizziness, depression, etc.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): substances that readily become vapors or gases, which are associated with a wide range of health issues and are known toxins.
Becoming an Educated Air Freshener Shopper
With a product full of ingredients that are difficult to read and make sense of, consumers are left wondering how to shop safely while still achieving the room-filling fragrance they desire. Fragrances are often a significant cause of concern when shopping for air fresheners, but beyond that, many bottles also include other ingredients which have detrimental health effects.
It is essential to know precisely what is in the air freshener sprays that we use to shop safely for our homes. While most companies will not disclose the exact ingredients in the fragrances that they use, it is crucial to look for products with simple-to-read components. While shopping, first, take a look at the ingredient list. Does it contain ingredients that you can read and understand? Secondly, while you may not have a complete list of fragrance ingredients, do the products indicate that the fragrances used are phthalate-free, carcinogen-free, non-toxic, mutagen-free, etc.? If a company uses safe fragrance oils, they will want you to know!
Shop Halarosis Air + Fabric Fresheners made with easy-to-read ingredients and clean fragrance oils!
Pro tip: Do not let the marketing of essential oils fool you! While essential oils may come from a natural source, many release VOCs into the air, which could be harmful!
Pro tip 2: When shopping for natural or clean Air + Fabric Fresheners, be aware that they may expire sooner than usual as they may not contain any added preservatives to remain clean and safe!