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The Hidden Dangers of Air Fresheners

Administration Staff

Toxic Air Fresheners Image-Clean Air PlusThe air freshener industry is a massive moneymaking machine, and these corporations spend millions, perhaps billions, of dollars on sophisticated ad campaigns in order to convince you that their products smell the best and last the longest. The worst aspect to this deluge of marketing is that it works as misdirection. The first question you should be asking is ‘why doesn’t my home smell fresh?’ When you clean a home regularly, ventilate it adequately and filter the air properly, it should smell great at all times without the need for artificial commercial air sweeteners.

The next question you should ask is ‘what do commercial air fresheners contain beyond natural fragrances?’ The trouble with that question is that it’s nigh impossible to get a straight answer since the US government doesn’t regulate air fresheners the same way that they do most products that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as paints, solvents, bug killers and so forth. The reason why most allergy-proofing guidelines and similar material instruct you not to use commercial air fresheners is that they contain particles that can trigger allergies and asthma.

In the past, concerns over the contents of these air fresheners were valid, but typically amounted to a lot of speculation. More recently, as concern over indoor air quality has grown, independent scientific research labs began to investigate these products. One of the most illuminating studies occurred at the University of Washington (UW).

In this journal-published study, researchers tested twenty-five of the most common scented products currently on the market, and they tested for harmful chemicals as well as assessed the product for label honesty. On average, each scented product emitted seventeen chemicals, and there were 133 unique chemicals overall.

According to federal guidelines and ratings, nearly a quarter of those 133 chemicals are hazardous or toxic. Of all those harmful chemicals used, only three were public knowledge. In the case of one harmful chemical, the manufacturer listed it directly on the label, and in the case of two others, the manufacturer made the information publicly available elsewhere, yet far enough out of reach that consumers would not just stumble onto them.

Most troubling is the fact that more than half of these products make a label claim like green, natural or organic. According to the study, the so-called ‘green’ products were no better than any other, and most of the products with the bold claims contained chemicals that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists as a probable carcinogen.

Since fresheners do not fall under the broad umbrella of food items and since the EPA hasn’t set a safe exposure level for these chemicals, the government does not regulate use, define labels or monitor manufacturer claims. Although within its legal right to do so, the study chose not to publish brand names and link them with the harmful chemicals they detected.

According to Anne Steinemann, a UW professor and the lead researcher, they made this choice carefully. The UW researchers believe that the vast majority of scented products on the market contain these dangerous elements. Therefore, they felt to publish on a small subset would only give the general public a false sense of security that while products A were bad, products B were safer, while that is likely not the case.

Nobody wants to deal with foul odors in the home, but as mentioned in the opening, there are options for dealing with it other than those poisonous commercial air fresheners. Coupled with regular cleaning and proper ventilation, air filtration using HEPA and activated carbon filters is a highly effective alternative. Using a room air purifier not only removes odors but offers many other benefits. A HEPA air purifier will remove particle pollution and airborne contaminants  and allergens. This helps to reduce allergy and asthma symptoms. The activated carbon filter will remove odors and harmful chemicals from the air.

The aspect of a HEPA air purifier that removes odor is the activated carbon filtration. Activated carbon has a minor positive electric charge, and that makes it extremely attractive to negatively charged chemicals, such as the impurities that give your home a bad smell. Carbon is also very porous, and that allows a small amount of carbon to collect a great amount of gases and volatile organic compounds. Not all activated carbon filtration is equal. By combining carbon filtration with a premium HEPA filter, it assures that the air is in contact with the carbon long enough to be most effective. Don't just hide the odor remove it and gain the added benefits of cleaner air.

If you use air fresheners and other scented products, stop immediately, especially if you have young children in the home. Carcinogens can have a terrible effect on the body during the formative years, and although much is still unknown, it’s best to leave nothing to chance. Start using a high quality HEPA air purifier that includes an activated carbon filter today and you will breathe clean fresh healthy air.  

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Clean Air Plus is a veteran and family owned small business. We represent the leading manufacturers in HEPA filtration including Austin Air, IQAir, Amaircare, Oransi and Airpura. Shop online or call one of our friendly experts at 888.247.1147. We'll be happy to help.


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