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Air Fresheners and Children’s Health

One of the most popular indoor air pollutants is the store bought air freshener. As you have probably found out by now, they don’t really “freshen” the air; instead they...

One of the most popular indoor air pollutants is the store bought air freshener. As you have probably found out by now, they don’t really “freshen” the air; instead they often mask odors with synthetic fragrances.

Air fresheners are sold as room sprays, plug-in deodorizers, odor neutralizers, air-sanitizers and aromatherapy candles. They are typically placed or sprayed in kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms and baby nurseries.

You might be surprised to learn what is in these products.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air fresheners contain four basic ingredients: formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, p- dichlorobenzene, and aerosol propellants.

These chemicals can cause headaches, rashes, dizziness, migraines, coughing, allergies and asthma. The potent substances are not good for anyone, but particularly children whose bodies and immune systems are still developing.

Studies have shown that children and adults with allergies are more likely to be chemically sensitive to artificial fragrances and the more toxic chemicals in these products can trigger asthma attacks.

Air fresheners are also highly flammable and strong irritants to the eyes, skin and throat. Solid fresheners can cause death if accidently ingested by children or pets.

There are more natural ways to freshen up indoor air:

Baking soda is one of those products that's been around forever. Baking soda absorbs odors. Sprinkle on the carpet, let sit for 5 minutes then vacuum. You can also fill small bowls and with baking soda and place in rooms where odors accumulate- putting them out of reach of children.

White vinegar is an excellent deodorizer and disinfectant. Use a solution of 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water to eliminate smells. You can also use this mixture for mopping and cleaning floors. Always check a small surface of the area you want to clean first to make sure that the vinegar will not damage it. 

Another recipe for cleaning is 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 2 cups of hot water in a spray bottle.

Aromatic herbs such as Lavender, Rosemary, Mint, and Basil can be made into sachets and placed in drawers and closets. In the kitchen you can boil your favorite mixture to cleanse and refresh the air.

Air fresheners have become a big-seller in the consumer world, but that’s probably because most people are not aware of what’s actually in them.

Sources: http://www.epa.gov/kidshometour/products/airf.htm

http://healthychild.org/easy-steps/freshen-indoor-air-naturally/

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About Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award winning pediatrician and medical editor for www.kidsdr.com.  She is a native of Washington, D.C. who travelled south to attend the University of Texas at Austin and never left.Read More

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