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Hidden Hazards of Air Fresheners Many   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.
How Much of the Phthalates Get Into People from Air Fresheners? When phthalates or other toxic chemicals are used in air fresheners, some but not all of it gets into our bodies.  There’s no simple answer to the question of whether enough of the phthalates get into people to pose a health hazard.  The answer depends on many factors, including the amount of phthalates in the product that’s being used, the size of the room it’s used in, the frequency of use, and how much time people spend in that room.  It also depends on whether the person is an adult or a child, how much of their skin is bare, and even on how hard and fast the person breathes.  To make matters more complicated, health risks from skin or inhalation exposure are tricky to predict because most of the studies done on phthalate toxicity focus on oral exposure rather than inhalation, and susceptibility varies widely. Common sense suggests that products that contain higher levels of phthalates would be more risky than those that contain none.  It is also the NRDC’s opinion that these exposures are unnecessary and should thus be avoided. 86%, (12 of 14) of the products the “Natural Resources Defense Council” tested had detectable levels of phthalates, including an “all-natural” product and an “unscented” air sanitizer (see figure 1).  There was a wide range of concentrations of phthalates in their samples (see Figure 2).  Nearly one-quarter of the products (3 of 14) had very high levels of more than 100 parts per million (ppm) including products that ranged from 360 ppm to 7,307 ppm.  70% (10 of 14) of all products had more than 1 part per million of total phthalates.  The reporting limit from the testing laboratory ranged from 0.1 to 1.0 ppm, depending on the specific phthalate chemical.  The major phthalates found were di-gutyl phthalate (DBP), di-ethyl phthalate (DEP), di-isobutyl phthalate (DIBP), and di-methyl phthalate (DMP) (see Figure 3).  Di-siohexyl phthalate (DIHP) was also found in a single sample. Masking the risk:  Phthalates Found in the Majority of Air Fresheners Figure 1:  Proportion of Air Fresheners Tested that Contain Phthalates Phthalate Free Phthalate Containing 86% 14% Figure 3: Frequency of Phthalates Mixtures 4 Phthalates Detected 3 Phthalates Detected 2 Phthalates Detected 8.3% 8.3% 33% 50% 1 Phthalate Detected Figure 2: Phthalates Present in Air Fresheners 10 8 6 4 2 0 DBP DEP DIBP DMP Other Phthalates Phthalates Detected Number of Products Containing Each Phthalate (14 Products Total)
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 paper and 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   illegal    to   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: Phthalates The   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. Formaldehyde Formaldehyde   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. Xylene Xylene   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. Phenol According   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.
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