No one wants a bad smell lingering in their house. So most people buy all kinds of cleaning products to get rid of the grime in the dirtiest places in your home. But the way you deal with invasive odors can actually impact your health. Air fresheners might seem harmless, but they come with chemical dangers you might not know about.
Cleaning products of all kinds can contain chemicals and additives. But air fresheners, in particular, can pose certain risks.
“You want to be wary of this category especially due to respiratory health concerns,” Samara Geller, senior research and database analyst for the Environmental Working Group (EWG) said. “In fact, there’s recent research that shows women who use sprays and other cleaning products such as air fresheners in the form of sprays as little as once a week may experience diminished lung function.”
Many air fresheners rely on aerosols, which have been shown to release high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in households that use them.
“These VOCs can produce ground-level ozone in the home, which is hazardous,” Geller said. “They can also react with different chemicals that are already in the home to create secondary aerosols, the very fine droplets that can be inhaled deep in the lungs.”
Cleaning is a daily habit that might keep you from getting sick, but there’s the issue of chemicals included in products that aren’t listed on the ingredients label.
“Catch-all terms like ‘fragrance,’ ‘perfume’ or ‘scent’ hide a black box of potentially hazardous chemicals,” Geller said. “It could essentially be made of scent compounds, but can also include different additives such as phthalates and preservatives.”
Old coffee grounds are effective at absorbing airborne particles that create odors; place these grounds in bowls around the house to eliminate unwelcome smells. Baking soda works the same way as an all-natural solution. You may put coffee or baking soda at the bottom of your trash can, for instance, to stop smells at the source.
Geller’s last piece of advice is even simpler: Open your windows. “Clear out those odors and get air flowing through your home,” she advised. You may not even need air fresheners at all; they, like these other common household products, could be putting your family’s health in danger.