No one likes a stale smelling room or house, and when you have babies in diapers around or pets, or even last night’s dinner from the garbage can leave a less than pleasing scent floating in the air. During pregnancy, the unpleasant aroma might even worsen your nausea. Yet before you grab that aerosol can be filled with air freshener, think again.
The biggest concern regarding air fresheners and aerosol cans is that they contain chemical contaminants, known as volatile organic compounds or VOCs. VOCs are types of chemicals that turn into a vapor or gas quite easily at regular room temperature. In addition, many air fresheners contain phthalates, which are known to cause a variety of ailments, including birth defects, hormonal abnormalities, and reproductive issues. VOCs also cause breathing and lung problems. Children exposed to VOCs are thought to have higher incidences of asthma.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) list the different types of chemicals which have the potential to release VOCs into the air:
- Caulks, sealants, and coatings
- Paints, varnishes and/or stains
- Cleaning agents
- Fuels and combustion products
- Vinyl flooring
- Fabric materials & furnishings
- Air fresheners and other scented products
- Personal products of employees like perfume, shampoos, etc.
Health effects From VOCs
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirms the following health risks from VOCs:
- Eye, nose and throat irritation
- Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
- Damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system
Symptoms from exposure To VOCs
- conjunctival irritation
- nose and throat discomfort
- allergic skin reaction
- difficulty breathing
Use natural air fresheners
The best way to keep your indoor air crisp is to allow fresh air into your home by opening the windows. Remember to take the trash out regularly. You can also boil water and add some sweet-smelling foods and spices such as cinnamon, orange peels, lavender, and peppermint to freshen up your house.