Whether you want your house to smell like Hawaiian breeze or cotton flower or a turquoise oasis, rest assured — there are air fresheners for that. But did you know that your sweet-smelling home may be damaging your health? Over the past decade, scientific studies have shown that many common household air fresheners contain chemicals that are potentially harmful.
Scents are all around us, but using them makes little sense
Between aerosol sprays, electric plug-ins, candles, oil diffusers, body wash, perfume, and cleaning products, these common household items are increasing the risk of serious health issues. According to Anne Steinemann, Ph.D., a professor of civil engineering at the University of Melbourne who has studied extensively the health impacts of fragranced household products, one-quarter of the ingredients in air fresheners are classified as toxic or hazardous. “Ultimately your risk depends on exposure,” she says. “You don’t have to have symptoms. Some effects are not immediately obvious.”
While it is commonly understood that smoking causes indoor air pollution, the experts also outlined a number of other items linked to potential health impacts including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory problems and effects on the heart and cancer.
The study, by the University of Melbourne, found that one in three Australians report adverse health effects from fragranced products, including breathing problems, migraine headaches, skin irritation and asthma attacks.
“There’s a belief that fragrance products in some way improve air quality but the opposite is actually true: fragrance products impair rather than improve indoor air quality and they pose a range of health and economic risks,” Steinemann said.
“It’s not like city dwellers are more affected – everyone is getting sick from these products,” she said.
“Some people have immediate, severe and disabling health effects. But the effects can be very subtle and insidious and people may not realise they’re being affected until it’s too late.”
It’s hard to avoid using scented products, but there are a few recommendations to keep your home healthy.
Air Filter: Having an air filtration system will remove harmful airborne particles from the air to keep the indoor air quality at healthy levels. Read about the SolarVenti filter health benefits.
Ventilation: Adequate ventilation will reduce the need for air fresheners. The SolarVenti pushes out old, stale, smelly air while pushing in the new fresh natural air.
Cleaning Products: Antibacterial agents found in some cleaning products such as like alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides and sodium hypochlorite (bleach) are asthmagens and respiratory irritants; the former has been shown to cause reproductive toxicity in animals while the latter is considered very toxic to aquatic life. We suggest checking the labels to ensure you are purchasing cleaning products that don’t contain hazardous chemicals. See the guide to natural cleaning products.
DIY natural air fresheners: We suggest an array of air purifying pot plants for your home as well as some scent plants & herbs too! Such as Night Jasmine which blooms at night and releases its pleasant smell, Rosemary, Dianthus flower, Lavender, Hyacinth flower and Mint. Check out this list of easy to grow household plants that are impossible to kill and have some awesome air purifying qualities. If you want a more practical classic spray air freshener, oil diffuser or baking soda shake freshener check out these instructions.