The other day I realized that I have not shared too many helpful household cleaning items, so I'm looking to change that! I offered up a recipe for a great natural all-purpose cleaner a couple of posts ago, and I wanted to introduce something else to keep your home fresh.
Households today are often kept smelling clean with a toxic cocktail of chemical fragrances. On top of that, many of these fragrance sprays do nothing to eliminate the odor! O & I have been using oil essence freshening sprays for a while now--but having just trusted the company & never looking into it, I wanted more information before I suggested a certain brand. I'm now left feeling confused and slightly abused by these "all natural air freshening companies". I honestly believe that they created their product from the goodness of the heart & their intention is to keep them as pure as possible, but I'm just thrown of by these studies and information. Take a look!
While I was researching I found a document released by the Natural Resource Defense Council detailing their findings on a study of the level of phthalates in common air fresheners. The documents had this to say about their link:
CHEMICALS IN AIR FRESHENERS COULD CAUSE HEALTH PROBLEMS
Unfortunately, the rise in popularity of air fresheners has outpaced awareness of the potential health threats from exposure to the chemicals they may contain. Most phthalates are well known to interfere with production of the male hormone, testosterone, and have been associated with reproductive abnormalities. Numerous animal studies have linked prenatal exposure to certain phthalates with decreases in testosterone, malformations of the genitalia, and reduced sperm production.4 In humans, phthalates have been associated with changes in hormone levels, poor semen quality, and changes in genital development.5 Five phthalates—including one that we found in air freshener products—are listed by the State of California as chemicals “known to cause birth defects or reproductive harm.”6 Phthalate exposure in indoor environments has also been associated with allergic symptoms and asthma.7
Because there are no labeling requirements and even “natural” products can contain toxic chemicals, it is virtually impossible for the average consumer to know which products may pose a risk.and to break it down further, here is a chart of their findings: note the bar I highlighted...
Another document I found, released by The Global Campaign for Recognition of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity gave extensive information on multiple chemicals found in air fresheners:
Air fresheners work in one of, or in a combination of, the following four ways:1) by killing your ability to smell by way of a nerve-deadening chemical
2) by coating your nasal passages with an undetectable oily film
3) by covering up one smell with another
4) (rarely) by breaking down the offensive odor.
Despite their name, air fresheners do little or nothing to freshen the air.In 2002, EPA researchers testing air freshening units that plug into electrical sockets determined that when the fragrance chemicals in these products react with common indoor air pollutants they produce serious health hazards. These chemicals include toxic substances such as benzene derivatives, pinene and limonene, aldehydes, phenol, and cresol.
Pinene and limonene react with ozone, a common outdoor and indoor air pollutant, creating formaldehyde and a variety of related chemicals which have been implicated in multiple chemical sensitivity and respiratory distress.
Air freshener chemicals have been implicated in cancer, neurological damage, reproductive and developmental disorders, and other conditions. The synthetic chemicals in air fresheners also can aggravate asthma and/or trigger attacks. Researching air freshener/plug-in ingredients from their Material Safety Data Sheets we find that these ingredients are toxic.
Let’s look at a few of the toxic chemicals in air fresheners/plug-ins:
Benzyl Alcohol— “ …upper respiratory tract
irritation, headaches, nausea and vomiting, a depressed central nervous system and a drop in blood pressure.”
Camphor— “On EPA's Hazardous Waste List … readily absorbed through the body tissues …irritation of eyes, skin, nose, and throat …dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions …avoid inhalation of vapors.”
Dichlorobenzene-- “extremely toxic, a central nervous system depressant, kidney and liver poison. One of the chlorinated hydrocarbons that is long-lasting in the environment and is stored in body fat. Vapor irritating to skin, eyes and throat. Banned in California.”
Ethanol-- “ … derived from petroleum and is carcinogenic … toxic to the skin, respiratory, cardiovascular, developmental, endocrine, neurological, and gastrointestinal systems.”
Formaldehyde-- “ …toxic if inhaled, poisonous if swallowed, skin and eye irritant, carcinogenic …”
Limonene—“ …Carcinogenic, prevent its' contact with skin or eyes because it is an irritant and sensitizer …always wash thoroughly after using this material and before eating or drinking …do not inhale limonene vapor".
Naphthalene-- “ … a carcinogen that accumulates in our waters and marine life. It can be irritating to the skin, alter kidney function, cause cataracts, and is toxic (cardiovascular and developmental), especially to children. It can be poisonous if inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin.
Phenol-- “ …can cause skin to swell, burn, peel, and break out in hives … cold sweats, convulsions, circulatory collapse, coma and even death.
Pinene-- “ …Flammable. Incompatible with strong oxidizing agents. Eye, skin, & respiratory irritant. May be absorbed through skin …very destructive of mucous membranes.And because these companies are not made to list these ingredients on labels, you never know which of these chemicals could be filling your home by way of "Tropical Breeze".
So what can you do? Here is a lovely list of suggestions from Curbly.com:
Vacuum. Squeeze a bit of fresh lime or lemon juice in your vacuum's bag before sweeping your carpet.& some more tips from HealthyChild.org:
Extracts. Combine vanilla, almond, or other extract with a cup of water, and spritz with a spray bottle about your living space.
Vinegar. Simply place a bowl of vinegar in the living room, kitchen, bathroom, etc, and let it sit while you're away for a few hours. When you return, the vinegar smell will have gone away, taking other odors with it.Vinegar #2. For particularly offensive smells, simmer white vinegar in a small saucepan on the stove for 30-45 minutes. As it evaporates, it will help dissipate other smells.
Citrus Zest. Don't even use or eat a piece of citrus without saving the zest, or rind (the peel, without the white 'pith'.) If there's no place for it in your recipe (though there probably is), simmer in a bit of water, or place in your garbage disposal and run for a minute with the hot water running.
Baking Soda. Read here for lots of ideas.
DIY Simmering Potpourri. Simply simmering several ingredients and spices does a great deal to scent your space. Look here for some excellent recipes.
- Open the windows–simple but effective. Good ventilation is the first line of defense in removing odors.
- Take out the trash often and clean any spaces that might have mold or dirt lurking.
- Make your own air fresheners by using a few drops of essential oils like lavender, lemon, and tea tree.
- Embrace houseplants, which can be very effective in cleaning the air and reducing odors. For plants with a nice smell of their own, try Geraniums, Gardenias and Jasmine.
Now home sweet home can be even sweeter! :]