Monday, October 1, 2012

A Fresh Blog Post

I've been thinking about the word "fresh" recently. Although there are alternative meanings, the general definition of the word is "new."  Often something fresh replaces something old, stale, or worn-out. We put on fresh socks or ask a friend to help us think of some fresh ideas for a project.

The air inside a building gets contaminated by the products used within it. In addition, humans inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, so when people are in a building, the air gets progressively less healthy from the simple act of breathing. We replace old, stale air with new, fresh air by opening windows or using ventilation systems. In no way whatsoever do we improve air quality by using those ridiculously named products known as “air fresheners."

 Here are a handful of "air freshener" facts:

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that most air fresheners contain formaldehyde and petrochemicals. They also contain a chemical known as 1,4-Dichlorobenzene (1,4,-DCB) which is an EPA-registered pesticide. It can cause cancer and lung damage and increases asthma rates. The chemical "freshens" the air by damaging nasal receptors. It does not remove odors, but removes people's ability to smell them.

  • A study comparing homes in which air fresheners were used every day with those in which they were used once a week or less found that babies in the daily-use homes had significantly more earaches and diarrhea, and their mothers suffered nearly 10% more headaches and had a 26% increase in depression.

  • Many air fresheners contain acetone and propane. They are toxic to the heart, blood, respiratory system, skin, gastrointestinal system, kidney, nervous system and liver.

  • Exposure to air freshener chemicals as little as once a week can increase your risk of developing asthma symptoms by up to 71%.

  • Most air fresheners contain phthalates, which are hormone-disrupting chemicals that can cause birth defects and infertility. These chemicals are even found in air fresheners designated as "unscented" or "all natural".

  • The human body stores chemicals like those found in air fresheners in fatty tissue. The body may hold onto fat as a way to protect itself from the release of the toxins.

  • Air freshener chemicals, including camphor, phenol, ethanol, formaldehyde, and artificial fragrances can cause a wide variety of health symptoms, including dizziness, coughing, rashes, mental confusion, and headaches, including migraines.

  • One study found that women with the highest usage of household chemicals, including air fresheners, had twice the risk of breast cancer of those with the lowest chemical usage rates.

Although air fresheners abuse and misuse the word "fresh," they aren't the only product to do so. I recently saw an advertisement for a laundry detergent that claimed it now had a higher percentage of "freshness."  Really?  I imagine what the marketers mean is that more fragrance chemicals have been added to the already potent and toxic mix. It's easy to get duped by marketing ploys, but we don't have to buy into the crazy-ness. We can break away from the crowd. We can have a fresh perspective. We can make a fresh start.

Are Air Fresheners Bad for Your Health?
Silent Menace
Air Fresheners: Easy Greening
How Air Fresheners Are Killing You
Air Fresheners' Real Impact on Indoor Air Quality

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