Just Say No to Conventional Air FreshenersNovember 5th, 2010 | Posted by in Air Quality | Environment | Green Homes | Green Products
Indoor air fresheners were first introduced in 1948, and their popularity has grown substantially since then. They are incredibly commonplace — according to a marketing report from the Global Cosmetic Industry, nearly 80% of global consumers reported buying an air freshening product in 2006, at a total value of more than $6 billion, and $979.1 million dollars in the U.S. alone. Following these trends, it’s expected that global air freshener sales for 2010 will reach $7.3 billion.
That’s an enormous market, affecting more than three-quarters of all Americans. Unfortunately, that also means that more than three-quarters of Ameriacns are voluntarily exposing themselves to extremely dangerous chemicals that can cause headaches, convulsions, and disruptions of the human reproductive system. The dangers of these home air fresheners have been recording by numerous organizations – including the Sierra Club, the National Center for Healthy Housing, the Alliance for Healthy Homes, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the European Consumer’s Organization.
Indeed, a study by the University of Bristol followed the health and development of 14,000 children since before birth. The study had some astonishing results: 32 percent more children suffered intestinal problems in homes where air fresheners were used, and a notably higher rate of earaches was recorded. Air fresheners seem to affect parents, as well: people who use air fresheners daily – whether from a spray can or a wall socket – suffer from 10% more headaches, and women with air fresheners in their homes had a 26% greater occurrence of depression.
It’s important to note, though, that a higher occurrence of these symptoms in homes with air fresheners does not necessarily mean those symptoms were caused by the air fresheners. But it certainly highlights important questions about the safety of air fresheners, and studies of air fresheners reveal numerous deadly chemicals that absolutely have an adverse effect on human health.
The California Air Resources Board published a study in 2006 entitled “Indoor Air Chemistry: Cleaning Agents, Ozone and Toxic Air Contaminants” that wound up underscoring the risks that home air fresheners pose (a full copy of the report can be found here). The report found that some air fresheners produce toxic pollutants – including formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, and other fine pollution particles.
In addition to carcinogenic formaldehyde and pollution particles, air fresheners produce a range of other dangerous chemicals, including acetaldehyde, organic acids, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxl radicals – all of which people should not be inhaling in their home environment. The European Consumers Organization also discovered, in a 2005 study, that air fresheners can produce allergens and other toxic air pollutants including benzene, terpenes, styrene, phthalates, and toluene in addition to formaldehyde.
It’s not tremendously surprising that these products produce such toxic chemicals when you consider what they contain – to begin with, over twenty different volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which have been linked to neurological disorders and kidney failure. A study at the University of Bristol even found that VOCs in can lead to a higher rate of earaches and diarrhea in infants, and depression and headaches in their mothers – suggesting that air fresheners could, indeed, be causing the symptoms noted above. Other basic ingredients in air fresheners include aerosol propellants, petroleum distallates, p-dichlorobenzene, phosphates, chlorine bleach, and ammonia. Many of these chemicals can seriously aggravate asthma and affect reproductive development.
GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS
But don’t fret! Despite all the dangers of air fresheners, there are green product alternatives available!
The Chikuno Charcoal Cube Air Freshener is the safest and most environmentally-friendly option presently on the market and represents design of an extremely high caliber. It is a chemical-free air freshener made from ultra-fine bamboo charcoal powder and clay minerals. According to the product’s webpage, Bamboo charcoal is activated at extremely high temperatures which produces an incredibly fine, or porous, interior – “like a micro sponge or honeycomb,” with an interior surface area of 7,500 square feet per gram of bamboo charcoal. This powder is significantly more fine than wood charcoal (and is more sustainably-produced, as bamboo can mature to harvestable size in as little as six years), and because of its large surface area, has the ability to absorb order for up to a year.
The Chikuno Cube can be refreshed every month by exposing to sunlight for six hours, and it won the Japanese Good Design Award in 2008.