Hidden Hazards of Air FreshenersMany of the 14 products the “Natural Resources Defense Council” tested contained more than one phthalate chemical. One half of the phthalate-containing air fresheners (six of twelve) had two or more phthalates, including one product that contained four different phthalates. Mixtures of phthalates in consumer products are of particular concern because phthalates “may act in combination to have a more toxic effect” than they would alone.
•I had Phoenix Glass install a new windshield in my car, after the job was completed and we were finalizing the paperwork your auto glass technicians advised me to remove my newly purchased air freshers from my car because the majority of them can and do contain chemicals that can affect my family’s heath. How can they affect our health?
The answer to your question fairly complex and this is about as short as we can make it. As of late Air Fresheners have really caught on in popularity as almost every vehicle we work on has at least one or more some where in it. We have seen as many as 14 in 1 car with the average being 4. The most popular ones we see are those little Christmas tree types that hang from rear view mirrors. Coming in secondly are the ones that clip on to the air conditioning vents that blast the aroma of your choice effectively throughout your vehicles interior compartment. There are also ones that lay hidden under seats or other small confined areas. We have had to work on some new as well as older vehicles that the oder from air freshers were so over powering they made our technicians nauseous which is what lead us to do the “Google It” thing in an effort to find out why so many people are using them. What we put in the Google box was (Why do people have so many air fresheners in their cars?) In 0.48 seconds we had 5,050,000 results pop up and aside from the places that we’re selling them none of them good. The majority of them contained information about how they can and evidently do affect your health.
The Information below came from parts of the September 2007 NRDC issue Paper:Click this link for a copy of the original NRDC paperand don’t stop there as there are many articles all over the web containing valuable information that can be a total game changer for your as well as your family’s health.
•Is it illegal to have an Air Freshener or other objects hanging from my interior rear view mirror?We don’t actually know the written law for Tennessee but from what we have been able to gather, it is illegalto have anything hanging from your rear view mirror or any where else in the visibility range of your windshield such as a GPS or Cell Phone, tablet mount or even stickers (except ones required by law). We’re told that the law in California only allows Stickers, GPS units and ETC to be placed within a 5 inch square on the drivers side bottom left corner and within a 7 inch square on the passengers side bottom right hand corners of your windshield. It is also hinted that the top 3 inches of a windshield can be used for items such as stickers, ETC. but to be absolutely safe it would be wise to consult the laws in your area as well as any other areas, State’s or Countries you may travel into in the future.
Chemical Hazards lurking within Air Fresheners:PhthalatesThe phthalate content found in most manufactured air fresheners is dangerous to human health, especially to children and pregnant women. The Phthalates used in just about all Air Freshener products are the main players of these evil concoctions of chemicals. What are Phthalates? Phthalates are chemicals used as plastic softeners, anti-foaming agents in aerosol sprays, in vinyl found in children’s toys, automobiles, paints, pesticides, and in cosmetics and fragrances as well as many other man made things. According to the NRDC (Natural Resource Defense Council) research, “Most phthalates are well known to interfere with production of the male hormone testosterone, and have been associated with reproductive abnormalities. Numerous animal studies also show that exposure to phthalates decreases testosterone, causes malformations of the genitalia as well as reduced sperm production. Studies on humans have linked phthalates to changes in hormones, poor semen quality, and changes in genital formation similarly to the studies done on animals. The State of California has listed five phthalates, including one found in air fresheners as “known to cause birth defects or reproductive harm”. According to the NRDC Phthalates in air fresheners are also associated with allergic symptoms and asthma.FormaldehydeFormaldehyde is a highly toxic carcinogen, as well as a neurotoxicant and immunotoxicant. It is also in the top 10 percent of hazardous chemicals for humans. Low levels of exposure cause eye irritation, and burning in the nose, throat and skin. Additional symptoms include nausea, headaches, memory loss, breathing problems and menstrual disorders. Higher levels of exposure have been linked to cancer in the nose and throat. Internal consumption of formaldehyde can cause coma, convulsions, severe vomiting, stupor and death. Direct eye contact with formaldehyde can cause blindness.XyleneXylene is a neurotoxin that can cause liver and kidney damage; it also poses health risks to unborn children. Long-term exposure can cause memory loss. Inhaled xylene causes symptoms like headache, dizziness and vomiting. High intakes of xylene can also cause a loss of consciousness, pulmonary edema and death. Pockets of fluid or air in the cornea area of the eye have also occurred.PhenolAccording to the National Institues of Health, phenol is toxic and hypersensitive individuals can die or suffer from very serous effects from minimal exposure. Skin contact with phenol can cause severe swelling, burning, peeling and hives. This toxin is absorbed quickly and can additionally cause convulsions, circulatory collapse, delirium and coma. Death and high toxicity levels often correlate directly with central nervous system depression, and poisoning of the heart, liver, eyes, lungs and kidneys. Phenol has also caused problems with animal fetuses and reproduction. The toxin additionally causes changes in the liver’s enzymes that regulate the absorption of various medications introduced into the body.
Given all of the above, it’s not surprising that a study that was also published in a 2007 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine that indicates that regular use of sprays can increase your risk of developing asthma by 30 to 50 percent. This study was performed by the European Community Respiratory Health Survey and collected data from 3,500 people in 10 European countries.Clearly, your health is best served by minimizing exposure to synthetic air fresheners and other synthetic products that are designed to emit a prolonged artificial scent.Here are some simple and natural ways of keeping your can and living space smelling fresh without using chemical-laden air fresheners:1.Open your windows - even just a crack during cold weather - for at least 30 minutes a day. Weather permitting, it’s best to keep your windows open all the time, assuming that you don’t live a heavily polluted area.2.Sprinkle baking soda on carpets before you vacuum.3.Keep a box of baking soda open in the room.4.Keep natural (preferably organic) potpourri in a bowl out in the open or put into little sachets to keep around the house or in your vehicle.5.Maintain a friendly gathering of indoor plants in your living and work spaces.6.Take the garbage and compost out every day.Please consider sharing this information with friends and family members who use synthetic air fresheners in the cars, homes and work places.Since children are most at risk, we hope that those reading this will dispose of their air fresheners, to minimize the exposure of those who are not able to protect themselves.