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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Are You Breathing Dangerous Chemicals without Knowledge

many scented air fresheners
Theres nothing like going to Mom's house after she gets done cleaning it and smelling the wonderful air freshener that she just sprayed. does it smell wonderful! Seems like she could always pick the best. My favorite is strawberry and vanilla. Also like the cinnamon one as well.

Nothing beats the good smelling air fresheners that are on the market today. Heck, they even have the kind you can just plug in to the electric outlet and it will keep your house smelling good for many days at a time. As well as theres many different kinds and types of air fresheners. Some of those types are:
  • Candles Scents
  • Potpourri
  • Warm Oil Scents
  • Powdered Wax Scents (ever heard of those?) Long lasting good stuff..
Also we know about the fresh scents that come in our household cleaning chemicals. The scents available today in every form of cleaning chemicals to air freshener scents is astronomical. But, what I want to direct your eyes at in this article, is the possibility that those chemicals may not be healthy just because they smell good.

In this article we will take a look at these chemicals that we're breathing when they're mixed with the air and other materials. I believe that knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have consequently the more safer you can be about anything. That is the benefit for you in this article.

lady using cleaning chemicals
Enjoy the products, but with maximum safety. Now thats a good smelling combination. So what about air fresheners is there anything to be aware of with them?

Absorb The Research Knowledge

Well, I did some research and study on this very subject and heres what I came up with for us.

Several years ago the California Air Resources Board (ARB) had a study done on the volatile organic compounds from consumer products used in the home and most institutions. The team commissioned for this study did a 330 page report called "Indoor Air Chemistry: Cleaning Agents, Ozone and Toxic Air Contaminants.

This research team focused their work on two areas:
  • The investigation of toxic air pollutants in household cleaning products and air fresheners, especially a class of chemicals known as ethylene-based glycol ethers.
  • And an examination of the chemistry that occurs when those products are used indoors in particular, products that contain a reactive group of chemicals called terpenes.
The research team determined which household products contain terpenes and glycol ethers, and the quantities of these compounds. They compiled a list of household cleaners and air fresheners from five retail chain outlets in California. Then examined the labels and advertising claims (e.g. pine scented, etc) for these products and reviewed available product data sheets.

From this data they selected four air fresheners and 17 cleaning products, including one each of disinfectants, general purpose degreasers, general purpose cleaners, wood cleaners, spot removers, furniture cleaning products, and multi-purpose solvents.

lady spraying air freshener
Upon the researchers testing of the terpene-containing products in the presence of ozone, it found that reactions produced very small particles with properties like those found in smog and haze. As well as other oxidation products, formaldehyde, a respiratory irritant that is a classified Group 1 carcinogen. The amounts of terpenes that were converted into pollutants was dependent on the amount of ozone that was present.

The researchers ran a series of 18 experiments to determine the level of exposure people might be subject to when using the products in a confined space. So the tests were conducted in a 230-square foot room with ventilation at an ordinary level which gave an approximate change of one air change every 2 hours.

In some of the tests of terpene-containing products, ozone was introduced into the room similar to those that would occur in households and offices. Some of the tests were run using full-strength solutions and others with diluted solutions.

The tests produced various results, some reassuring, and some raising concerns. They found that the good news is that when people used the products under normal or ordinary circumstances, their exposure to ethylene-based glycols, formaldehyde and fine particles did not reach dangerous levels.

That is, levels set by regulatory agencies as the maximum exposure levels believed to be safe. But, on the other hand, researchers pointed out, that because formaldehyde is also released from other sources such as plywood and pressed treated wood products that are found in most buildings, any increase in formaldehyde emissions is not good.

They said that in several realistic use scenarios, the tests showed that people could be exposed to potentially dangerous levels of toxic pollutants. Those scenarios included:
  • Cleaning in a small, moderately ventilated bathroom.
  • Air freshener and ozone in a child's bedroom. This scenario could occur when people use both air fresheners and ozone-generating devices simultaneously in a room.
  • Cleaning when outdoor ozone levels are high.
  • Multi-house cleaning by a professional home cleaner.
                                                                                    The Summation

the natural air freshener
They surmised that the message from these tests is that everyone, especially cleaning professionals should be cautious about overuse of products with high levels of ethylene-based glycol ethers and terpenes. Your rooms should be well ventilated during and after cleaning. Some products should be used in diluted solutions instead of full strength.

And cleaning supplies should be promptly removed from occupied spaces once the cleaning is done.

The Final Wrap Up

I don't believe these tests to be exhaustive or conclusive myself. I think more research needs to be done on these products. The reason being that everytime you turn around another company is introducing a new kind of air freshener or cleaning product with different chemicals doing different things.

This to keep competition strong between all the companies that create these smell good products. The old "well you should use mine because it's better then your's type of competition" - all for a buck, you know. Because of that, it creates more chemicals that make more and different reactions. These need to be constantly looked at for consumer safety.

This of course is just my opinion. What do you think? I think the benefit to us here is the knowledge we've gained and the advice of not using our favorite air fresheners and cleaning products in strong concentrations with out adequate ventilation. This is good common sense advice.

One other thing, never use air freshener sprays or cleaning solvents around fire or flame. Ethylene-glycol chemicals are alcohol based and highly flammable. Be safe please!

Enjoy your favorite air fresheners in safe moderation..

Thanks for coming by...