Air Fresheners – Friend Or Foe?

Air Freshner

The fragrance of a meadow full of flowers or the smell of freshly ironed linen will always make us smile.  So will a sea breeze.  Lavender’s good for the nerves, and lemon makes us feel fresh.  But how are we creating these fragrances in our homes, and what does it REALLY mean for our health and safety?

I’ll never forget the picture of a cat I saw recently that had accidentally knocked over a container of reed diffuser, suffering horrific burns to his little body.  His owners were, of course, completely distraught at what had happened to their poor beautiful pet and had washed him immediately.  But a few days later he was in agony.  Washing him hadn’t prevented the oils from leaching into his skin and burning his fur off.  A hard learned, horrible lesson for his owners, but at least afterwards, with the diffuser firmly in the trash where it belonged, horrifying burns from it were no longer a risk to their family and pets.

Air fresheners are unregulated substances that typically interfere with your ability to smell accurately by releasing nerve-deadening agents or invisible oil films that coat your nasal passages and overlay other odours, tricking the olfactory system into believing they have been eliminated.  In all their forms, they do the absolute opposite of improving the quality of indoor air, unless you count nausea, headaches, racing pulse, watery, itchy eyes and the development or exacerbation of asthma, as improvements.

Common ingredients in air fresheners are chlorine and pesticide based.  They can interfere with the central nervous system, mimic the action of hormones.   They can also contain formaldehyde and naphthalene, which affects oxygen-carrying red blood cells, potentially causing cardiovascular and developmental dysfunction, particularly in children.

So, next time you’re in the supermarket, reaching for the freshener, take a moment to reconsider.  There are plenty of natural alternatives (e.g. pot pourri and essential oils).  Getting creative and doing some “googling” will help you find other, lovely, safe ways of enabling your home to smell nice, without threat to your family’s health.

By: Maxine Cook
Maxine Cook is the owner of a Gloucestershire-based chemical free domestic cleaning and home support business. She is a passionate advocate for human, animal and environmental health. Through her website, and through social media and public speaking, Maxine educates people about the impact of hard chemicals and other environmental hazards to health and well-being. She lives in Winchcombe, and she is a recent Finalist in the Gloucestershire Echo Women in Business Awards. Maxine will be contributing articles about promoting a healthy and safe environment through sustainable living, kindness to animal and human health, and creative thinking to be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise

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