We often think that we’re doing everybody else a favor by spraying our entire house with air freshener. The relatively inexpensive price plus it’s effect to make our house smells good making us taking the effort to put a can of air freshener to our grocery bag. Why does it matter anyway? Our home could smells good and fresh with the sprays of these affordable canned air fresheners. Oh, it’s also safe to use.
But is it though? You might want to recollect the information you got about these air freshener. This lean cans contains fresh air are not as safe as we think it is. These so called air freshener that you often used often use hazard chemicals in it. These chemicals has dangerous reaction at variant degrees , especially when our body is exposed to it.
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has released a study evaluating the fact that most air freshener product in the market contains variable amount of dangerous chemicals in it. Out of 14 air fresheners that being examined, 12 of it contains various amount of substances called Phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates), a group of chemicals that are used to dissolve and carry fragrances.
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1. Phthalates Chemical
Now we understand that Phthalates is the dangerous chemicals in air fresheners. We should avoid stacking this chemicals substances in our body every day. That is of course, if we want to live long and with a healthy body.
But what exactly is phthalates and why is this particular chemical substances are dangerous for our body?
Phthalates is a dangerous of chemicals that’s often used in daily product of our lives. It is used in children’s toy to make the plastic softer. Nail polish and make up usually also contains them. Perfume and air fresheners are another product that have this chemicals as one of their complement.
When people used air freshener, this particular chemical spreading away at the room and being inhaled by the people in it. In some cases, it is released and land on people’s skin, resulting in various dangerous effect on their health. Studies involving rat and human subjects have resulted that high exposure to certain kinds of phthalates can cause cancer, develop mental and sex-hormones abnormalities (decreased testosterone and sperm levels and malformed sex organs) in infants and can effects fertility.
In 2004, The Europian Union banned two types of phthalates in cosmetics. Soon after that, 14 other countries follow this step.This chemical substances has been an international controversy since more than a decade a go and yet the using of it in everyday’s product is continuing. Below are the subtances of this chemical as well as deeper explanation about them.
The next time you are running an errand and decided to pick an air freshener, just make sure that the air freshener doesn’t include these dangerously toxic chemicals. Also, you must aware that usually these chemicals are not listed there by its IUPAC name nor their other name. They are in the listing by their abbreviation. Therefore, you need to scan the formula list thoroughly to be able to find them.
2. Di-ethyl Phthalate (DEP)
Preffered IUPAC name: Diethyl benzene-1, 2-dicarboxylate
Diethyl phthalate (DEP) is a phthalate ester, which is the diethyl ester of phthalic acid. It is a clear substance that is a little less dense than liquid water. Diethyl Phthalate has strong, faint odor and can be smell through the plastics that contains it. When burned, DEP produces toxic gases.
This substance often used to bind cosmetics and fragrances, as well as detergent bases and aerosol sprays. Because of the frequent dermal exposure of humans to chemical, this substance become controversially toxic. Several studies suggest that DEP can cause damage to the nervous system and the reproductive organs in males and females.
After distribution throughout the body, DEP accumulates in the liver and kidney, induces the enzyme activity of catalase. This could leads to hepatic peroxisome proliferation and possibly causes hyperplasia. Indeed, DEP is of of many compound of dangerous chemicals in air fresheners that we need to avoid to create a better lifestyle.
3. Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)
Preffered IUPAC name : Dibutyl benzene-1, 2-dicarboxylate
Abbreviation : DBP
Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) is usually use as plasticizer, as well as addictive to adhesives or inks. It could be found in various organic solvents such as alcohol, ether and benzene. DBP could also use as ectoparasitieide, as well as having a putative endocrine disruptor.
The use of this substance in cosmetics is banned in European union under directive 76/78/EEC 1976. Because of its toxic effects, a risk assessment has been conduct and conclusion were made for protecting customers and workers from the risk of inhalation. Other than that, in USA, the amount of more than 1000 ppm or greater in children’s toy was permanently banned.
Based on people in different ages, the European Commision Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) conclude that total exposures of this particular substance in individual is below tolerable, therefore, it will be best bet to reduce exposures once and for all.
More Chemicals in Air Freshener
Meanwhile, there are many chemicals in air freshener that could be dangerous if we breath it everyday.
1. Diisobutyl Phthalate (DIBP)
Preffered IUPAC name : Bis(2-methylpropyl) benzene-1,2-dicarboxylate
Abbreviation : DIBP
Diisobutyl Phthalate is an odorless plasticizer that has a good heat and light stability. It is the cheapest plasticizer for cellulose nitrate. DIBP has lower density and freezing point than dibutyl phthalate, although they have some similarities in their characteristics.
They can be use for each other’s substitute. This substance when being expose to prenatal maternal could effect in substantial harm of intellectual development. The effects on adults are not really significant. But when exposed to little child, it can lead to serious mental development issues. This subtances has also associated with changes in male genital development, which is another reason of why we should not expose this substance to our body.
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2. Dimetyl Phthalate
Preffered IUPAC name : Dimethyl benzene-1 , 2-dicarboxylate
Dimethyl phthalate is an organic compound with molecular formula (C2H3O2)2C6H4. With its colorless, oily liquid and sweet odor, dimetyl phthalate could result in difficulty in breathing when exposed. Other than that, this substance can also result in irritation of the eyes, coughing, and wheezing. This substance usually used as insect repellent for mosquitoes and flies. It is also an ectoparasiticide and has many other uses including solid rocket propellants, and plastics. According to several studies, dimethyl phthalate could decrease fertility in both males and females.
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Air Freshener Chemicals Solutions
Knowing all the impacts and danger of using air fresheners that contains phthalates, the dangerous chemicals in our room should be enough reason to question the decisions of using this product. As listed above, using air fresheners that contains phthalate substances in it could cause various harms to our body. Coughing, wheezing, and difficulty to breath might seems like not important price to pay.
But when we think about long terms effect, these chemicals can cause decrease in fertility, disturb mental development, and even cancer. That seems like an awful price to pay in exchange of the slight sweeter odor in our room. So what should we do then?
Fear no more! The good news is, there are many ways for us to improve the conditions of our house naturally. These tricks are completely safe and could actually filter the air as well as making it fresher.
Natural Air Freshener Alternative
As it said, there are many dangerous chemicals in air freshener that is bad for health. By then, we may try this tricks as the natural air freshener alternative.
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1. Open Your Windows
This is a simple yet amazingly effective way to keep your rooms fresh. Turning on a fan when you are cleaning or cooking can help the air flows out of your house and let it brings new set of fresh air for you and your family.
2. Keep The Air Flowing When You Are Cooking
When you are cooking, make an effort to let the air flows inside and out easily from your kitchen. You can use a large fan and opening windows for the process.
3. Use Essential Oil diffuser
Essential oil diffuser could be a little pricey, but it makes a great investment for your house. It can relieve stress, reduce anxiety, calming the mood, and of course, freshening the air naturally.
4. Clean Carpets Regularly
Cleaning your carpet regularly contribute a lot to the fresh air in your house. One of the most effective way to deodorize your carpet is to spreading baking soda to the carpets before vacuum it up.
5. Buy House Plants
House plants absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, which makes it an excellent choice to decorate your house. You can choose the plants that is famous for their richness in producing fresh and healthy air.
6. Use Baking Soda, Citrus and Vinegar
To neutralize the odor of your room (and even make it sweeter and better), use these three natural ingredients. Baking soda could do wonder to your air when put open in hidden places.
For the citrus, you can use the peel and simply put it somewhere you want. It could produce naturally fresh and sweet air just by itself.
As for vinegar, we can use it to neutralize the air by mixed three part of white vinegar and one part water in a spray bottle. Spray it all over the room and it will make the air more neutral. (Don’t worry, the vinegar-y smell will disappear soon enough.
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