How Room Fresheners & Perfumes Are Aggravating Indoor Air Pollution

Did you know your favourite fragrances have many hazardous chemicals in them? Learn the harmful effects of room fresheners and perfumes in this article.
Indoor air pollution has become a rising matter of concern. It has been affecting the health of individuals far more than outdoor pollution. People spend 90% of their time indoors. With indoors, it might be home or office. Indoor air pollutants can also be things we use in our daily lives, and these cause potential damage to our respiratory health. For instance, we are bombarded by products like air fresheners, perfumes, or scented cleaning products, seemingly every day- in our workplace, public places like- shopping malls, shops, restaurants, etc. These artificially generated aromas are loaded with extremely harmful chemicals and can be hazardous to the health. It is best to avoid them and switch to other alternatives.

Chemicals present in these artificial fragrances

Room fresheners, perfumes, and scented candles are expected to have more than 3000 chemicals in them, which lead to respiratory hazards. Candles make your house look beautiful and smell fresh. Still, candles are a potent pollutant that releases harmful gases and sediments that are dangerous to the health. Room fresheners and perfumes have a chemical called phthalates in them, which have been in controversy to cause changes in the hormonal constituency and levels. When certain products have the tag of 'fragrance-free added to them, they generally have an ingredient that masks the fragrance and is equally harmful. These are synthetic products imposing risks to health.
Air fresheners have chemicals that can stick to and be absorbed by furniture, walls and surfaces, carpets, and more. These chemicals are released and circulated within the closed space even after the air freshener is no longer used.
Fragrance blends have ingredients like solvents, stabilizers, UV-absorbers, preservatives, and dyes contributing to the indoor air pollutant list. Air fresheners also contain formaldehyde, benzene, petroleum distillates, limonene, esters, and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). These are potent indoor air pollutants that aggravate your health issues. These fragrances have carcinogenic ingredients, respiratory irritants, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, allergens, and environmental toxins.

Do they affect our health? How?

The negative impact of these synthetic chemicals on your health is diverse. These fragrances cause numerous health issues. These are as follows:
● Allergies and Asthma: Numerous individuals are allergic to fragrances. Some people have multiple chemical sensitivities (MCV), and they react to almost every fragrance kind. Some visible symptoms or signs are continuous coughing, sneezing, inflamed and red eyes, irritation in the respiratory tract. There are chances of internal damage.
● Migraines and Headaches: Scented products are known to aggravate migraine and headache attacks. Air fresheners, fabric softeners, laundry scent crystals, colognes, and perfumes are known to trigger migraine pain.
● Cancer: The International Agency for Research on Cancer or World Health Organization has proposed that ingredients present in fragrances are human carcinogens. These contain cancer-causing formaldehyde.
Other symptoms include irritation in the eyes, running nose, reddish eyes, and nausea, etc.

Possible solutions

Sometimes using room fresheners and perfumes are inevitable. The best possible method of dealing with the problem is to reduce the usage of the product. You can also switch these room fresheners with organic and natural mists. You can DIY such mists at your home by using essential oils and a bit of alcohol. The mists prepared this way would be way healthier for your home and health. Also, you can install a HEPA air purifier at your home. These purifiers trap 99.99% of the air pollutants in the air and enhance air quality indoors. These filters effectively remove dust, bacteria, mites, etc.
Moreover, if you are among those who enjoy the essence of nature around your home or workplace, then you can opt for indoor plants that act as natural fresheners, purify the air and provide a great ambience. These indoor plants lower toxic carbon dioxide levels by converting it into oxygen, reducing airborne dust levels, and lessening or removing certain pollutants like- formaldehyde and nitrogen dioxide. Few examples of such plants are:
● Aloe Vera: Removes pollutant like formaldehyde
● Bamboo Palm: Eliminates pollutant like- benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene
● Snake plant: Removes pollutants: xylene, formaldehyde, and benzene
● Boston Fern: Soaks up benzene and formaldehyde from the air
● Peace Lily: Efficient in removing ammonia, benzene, and formaldehyde

Ways To DIY Natural Room Fresheners

Homemade room fresheners are an excellent way to refresh your indoors. They comprise natural products and cause negligible harm to your surroundings. For making natural room fresheners, you need the following:
● One tablespoon of baking soda
● Few drops of essential oil like lavender, lemon, cinnamon, peppermint
● Distilled water
● A spray bottle
Mix all of this in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray this mixture in your house, and it will smell fresh and beautiful throughout. Another unique way of refreshing your house can be using a simmer pot. You can put orange slices, lemon slices, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and bay leaves in a simmer pot and put it in your house, and it will smell fresh all day. This mixture is also effective in masking the foul indoor smell.
Herbal wreath: Use a wreath made up of herbs that produce a natural scent and adds color and texture to a blank wall.
These wreaths can be made up of several herbs like lavender, rosemary, thyme, or sage.

Threaded Pomander Balls

Use a combination of lemons, oranges, and grapefruits to make Threaded Pomander Balls. This DIY won't take long to make and shall provide you with the most delicious citrus scent floating around your home or workspace. You can add cloves that would give it a certain spice level, making it more interesting and unique. Create pretty patterns across the fruits that double up your decor along with refreshing your room.
Finally, try to figure out what odor you are trying to get rid of by spraying freshener in the room? Get rid of the source, simple!

So, Shall We Stop Using Room Fresheners &
Perfumes Altogether?

We know it isn't easy to give up on these products completely. But we certainly recommend you put a check on the extent of their use. Instead of room fresheners, opt for natural items like activated charcoal-based air purifiers, beeswax candles, indoor plants, salt lamps, etc. In a nutshell, act responsibly. Don't simply load the air with an artificial smell when you can purify it. Bring home natural air purifiers, as mentioned above, and put a cap on indoor air pollutants.
The same goes for perfumes and deodorants. No matter how good they smell, they are potential sources of indoor air pollution and should be swapped with natural fragrances, herbal wreaths, pomander balls, essential oil pots, etc.
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Know Your Home Air

Gas heating systems, leaking chimneys, fire places emits carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other harmful pollutants. Plastics and common household cleaners, paints, paint thinner often placed under the kitchen sink, release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), when used and stored. Overheating of non-stick cookware releases toxic fumes. Pesticides we use in and around the home also release various chemical and semi-volatile compounds.


Harmful effects
Carbon monoxide causes headache, dizziness and fatigue. These often cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea, and can also damage the liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Fine particles are produced during all kinds of combustion which lead to acute and chronic effects to respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

Pet dander and hair, carpet, rugs, upholstery furniture are main source of dust mites, fungus, and bacteria. A dirty filter of air conditioners acts as a reservoir for dirt, dust and other airborne contaminants that are continuously circulated back into your breathing air. Secondhand smoke from cigarettes, other tobacco products and mosquito coil emits VOC’s and formaldehyde and various particulate matters. CO2 released from our lungs is exhaled in the air which pollutes the air if the place is too crowded or there is less ventilation.


Harmful effects
All these can trigger coughing, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, dry mouth, vomiting,
digestive tract problems, depression, allergy and asthma attacks, and other respiratory illness.

Shower, faucets and other water sources are main cause of humidity and mold. Bathroom cleaners and personal care products like toothpaste, soaps, facial tissues, detergent, fabric softeners, air fresheners, deodorizers, hair sprays, disinfectants, are full of VOC’s and chemicals which emits harmful pollutants.


Harmful effects
Mold can cause allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory ailments. VOC’s and toxic chemicals released in the bathroom can causes eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea and respiratory problems. All these products release harmful pollutants while they are used also when they are stored.

A bedroom contains many sources of indoor air pollution. Mattress, pillow and blankets, soft toys, are the reservoirs of dust mites, fungi and bacteria. Furniture, carpets, paints and beauty product like hairspray, nail polishes, perfumes, deodorants etc off gas VOC, formaldehyde and toxic gases into the air.


Harmful effects
These pollutants make the air unhealthy which leads to allergy, asthma attacks, dizziness, headache, fatigue and other respiratory ailments.

Second-hand smoke
Second hand Smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars or pipes and the smoke exhaled by smokers. Secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Passive smoking can lead to coughing, excess phlegm, and chest discomfort. NCI (National Cancer Institute) also notes that spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), cervical cancer, sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, nasal sinus cancer, decreased lung function, exacerbation of cystic fibrosis, and negative cognitive and behavioral effects in children have been linked to ETS. Secondhand smoke exposure commonly occurs indoors, particularly in homes and cars. Secondhand smoke can move between rooms of a home and between apartment units.

Guest Bathroom

Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
The air filter in your HVAC system is the front line of defense against poor indoor air quality. A typical central heating and cooling system circulates over 1,000 cubic feet per minute of air through the filter. This means the entire air volume in your house passes through the filter multiple times every day. A dirty filter, however, can actually make indoor air quality worse by acting as a reservoir for dirt, dust and other airborne contaminants that are continuously circulated back into your breathing air. In addition to driving up your utility bill, a clogged air filter will allow all that dust and debris that should be filtered out to be re-circulated back into your home. This can cause chronic allergies and especially be dangerous for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions.

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