If you use synthetic air fresheners in your car and/or living space and or associated with your clothes, you should know that you’re likely increasing risk of developing a variety of health problems. Headaches, earaches, depression, an irregular heart beat, and diarrhea in babies are just a few of many health challenges that have been linked to regular use of synthetic air fresheners.
Febreze is classified as an air freshner, created by Proctor & Gamble.
P & G reports that it works by “trapping” odor molecules in a donut-shaped chemical.
And now produced by Proctor & Gamble, Febreze as a household odor eliminator and freshener.
It was introduced to the North American market in 1988.
Developed in England, it is now sold in Asia, New Zealand, Asia and Australia. Since its introduction, several forms of the famous brand have been added to the line, including scented candles and plug-in oils.
For Starters READ the WARNING LABEL
The warning label advises against inhaling because it could be fatal. It also advises that in the event of contact with the eye to rinse immediately.
It warns that hard surfaces could become slippery, so avoid slipping on the chemical and falling. It also says not to expose the chemical to fire or heat.
Other than these basic warning, Proctor & Gamble has assured the public that its product is safe to use in the household.
Yet a quick review of the Product Safety Data Sheet leads to a quick conclusion that you do not want to use the product on clothing that will have contact with someone’s skin since the warnings include: Causes serious eye irritation; Causes skin irritation; May cause an allergic skin reaction
Go to this link to read the Product Safety Data Sheet that P & G has to provide for Febreze pursuant to OSHA requirements and draw your own conclusions : https://www.pgproductsafety.com/productsafety/msds/SDS_2015/FEBREZE_NOTICEABLES_AIR_FRESHENER_-_TIDE_ORIGINAL_SCENT.pdf
The first thing that is really important to understand: the product does not remove odor molecules and it doesn’t clean the item it comes into contact with.
The odor molecules are still there. Your nose just can’t perceive them because you smell the chemical product instead.
That alone should be your first warning. We know inhalation of any chemicals is dangerous, and several of its ingredients listed below are known to irritate the lungs…but this is a chemical whose entire purpose is to be inhaled!
You’ve probably seen the commercial: A mom walks into a teenager’s room, takes a sniff and tells him no “nice” girl would ever want him because his room smells like (shocker!) teenage boy. She tells him it’s time to “wash” his room and hands him a bottle of Febreze, which he proceeds to spritz on every stinking surface in the room, from his pillow to his bed. In the next scene a girl walks in, sniffs around, and decides the boy is all right. There’s so much wrong with this commercial, I could go on for hours… but I want to focus on the one that is going to have a long-term effect on health: air fresheners. They can be quite harmful to your health.
I always gag when I walk into a Febreze-sprayed room. The worst is when the cleaning crew uses it like crazy in actors’ trailers, and then we have to sit in there all day.
Air fresheners come in many different forms, from air and fabric sprays to plug in “burners” to solids. While they can perfume the air of your home, they don’t actually neutralize smells and they can wreak havoc on your home’s air quality.
What’s in Air Freshener ?
According to the EPA1, air freshener contains four basic ingredients: formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, aerosol propellants, and p-dichlorobenzene.
Formaldehyde can cause a number of health effects including:
Burning eye, nose, throat and other mucous membranes
Petroleum distillates come from petrochemical manufacturing, which contribute to air, soil, and groundwater pollution. The effects on human health include:
Aerosol propellants can harm earth’s ozone layer. Likewise, they can damage human health including:
Increased cancer risk
Development of chronic health issues
Paradichlorobenzene (p-DCB) is often found in mothballs and may cause:
Loss of appetite
Changes to the blood
Unfortunately there is not much data being shared on Febreze and their many products, but the Environmental Working Group (EWG) did conduct a test for the ingredients of one of their products, Febreze Air Effects.
Below you’ll find a list of just some of the 87 chemicals found by the EWG in Febreze Air Effects, listed in order of their toxicity to humans:
BHT – Known as a neurotoxin, endocrine disruptor, immunotoxicity, non-reproductive organ system toxicity, skin eye and lung irritator
Acetaldehyde – Known to cause cancer, toxic to reproduction and development, immunotoxin, non-reproductive organ system toxin, skin, eye and lung irritator
“Fragrance” – One of the three ingredients actually disclosed, it’s a neurotoxin, immunotoxin and allergen
Propylene Glycol – Causes cancer, allergies, toxic to immune system, accumulates in the system, non-reproductive organ system toxin, is classified with “enhanced skin absorption” and irritates the skin, eye and lung
1,3-Dichloro-2-propanol – Carcinogenic (causes cancer)
Limonene – Allergen, immunotoxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Methyl pyrrolidone – Toxin to reproduction and development, allergen and immunotoxin, non-reproductive organ system toxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Alcohol denatured – Also disclosed in the ingredients of Febreze, it’s linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Butylphenyl methylpropion al – allergen, immunotoxin and and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Ethyl acetate – linked to developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, organic system toxicity and and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Geraniol – Linked to allergies, immunotoxicity, organi system toxicity and and skin, eyes and lung irritation
Linalool – allergen, immunotoxin, and and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Benzaldehyde – neurotoxin, and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Diethylene glycol monoethyl ether – non-reproductive organ system toxicity
Ethylhezanol – developmental and reproductive toxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator
Hexyl cinnamal – allergen, immunotoxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator
And way too many more….
Environmental Working Group (EWG) has independently tested Febreze. Its toxicology report as noted above claims that Febreze contains several chemicals that can be extemely harmful not only to the environment but also to your health. According to EWG, Febreze contains 89 air contaminants, including acetaldehyde, propylene glycol, limonene and methyl pyrrolidone ethylacetate, which is toxic to the the brain and nervous system. These contaminants are linked to cancer, are toxic to the reproductive system and cause allergies
NRDC Found Similar Results in 2007———Interestingly enough, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) also tested 14 different air fresheners in 2007, including Febreze, and found they contained phthalates, which are hormone-disrupting chemicals and have been linked with childhood asthma. Again, none of the products disclosed these ingredients.
“Consumers have a right to know what is put into their air fresheners and other everyday products they bring into their homes,” said Dr. Gina Solomon, NRDC senior scientist. “There are too many products on the shelves that we assume are safe, but have never even been tested.”
In the report that was released in September of 2007 by the Natural Resources Defense Council the found that 12 of 14 brands of common household air fresheners contained phthalates. Phthalates are chemicals that are used to prolong the length of time that scented products maintain their fragrance. Regular exposure to phthalates can increase your risk of experiencing endocrine, reproductive, and developmental problems. Amazingly, some of the brands that tested positive for phthalates did not include phthalates on their lists of ingredients; some of these brands were even labeled as being “all-natural” and “unscented.”
Is it time for you to change your methods of freshening our homes, schools, places of business and in some cases clothing ?
Here are seven reasons why we should think about not using Febreze.
- Febreze and other chemical air fresheners do not remove the odor molecules-they simply cover them up. The odor molecules are still there, you just can’t detect them anymore. So after spraying the product, you’re not only inhaling the odor molecules, but the air freshener chemicals as well.
- Febreze contains chemicals linked to cancer.
- Febreze contains chemicals linked to hormone disruption and developmental problems.
- Febreze contains chemicals linked to neurotoxicity, which means the chemicals are poisonous to the nerves or nerve cells.
- Febreze contains chemicals that irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.
- Febreze contains chemicals linked to allergies and asthma.
- Febreze doesn’t disclose any of these potentially harmful ingredients, so if it weren’t for studies like these by the EWG and the NRDC, we would have no idea what we were sniffing
Of course, the list goes on. The tagline for Febreze is “We’re out to make the world breathe happy.” When I inhale Febreze or read the ingredient list and their toxic effects, I’m not breathing happy and I doubt you are either.
It’s quite ironic, really, that something designed to “improve” indoor air quality by making it smell better actually winds up making your home more toxic. Studies show that use of air fresheners in the home can trigger asthma and allergies, along with other breathing problems. Because your home is a relatively closed space, adding elements that diminish air quality can harm your family and contribute to the toxic brew of chemicals that wind up trapped in your system. Air fresheners can also harm pets, which have a faster metabolism. They may also be especially dangerous for people with pulmonary conditions such as asthma, allergies, or COPD.
Please note that having no phthalates does not make synthetic air fresheners safe to use in your car or home.
The vast majority of synthetic air fresheners emit significant amounts of terpene, a volatile organic compound that can react with naturally occurring ozone to create formaldehyde.
Ozone, a form of oxygen, exists at some level both indoors and outdoors, so formaldehyde formation is practically inevitable wherever synthetic air fresheners are used. Indoor environments that tend to have elevated levels of ozone include those where photocopiers and ozone-generating air purifiers are used.
All of the advertisements strive to make us feel that we do not have a really nice home unless “air fresheners” are supplied in all bathrooms, kitchens, and around the house generally to assure that we and our visitors are persuaded that ours is not just a clean home, but one with requisite elegant touches. There are two kinds—the spray type, with their unrecycleable aerosol cans or plastic packages, adding to unnecessary solid waste, and the wick type, that send out their fumes continuously.
These products do not, in fact, do anything to improve the quality of the air. Instead, they add a number of pollutants—some designed to deaden your sense of smell, others serving as propellants, and others adding various kinds of toxic perfume to drown out whatever smells may offend. Many of these ingredients cause irritation of the nose and lungs—leading to serious problems for many people. Many times, pesticides are even included—for what purpose?! Spray this around and solve all your odor problems?!
A prominent constituent of many of these products is formaldehyde. That can destroy your sense of smell alright, and it is one of the worst offenders for respiratory irritation. It has also been admitted by the EPA to be a cause of cancer. Anyone with asthma, lung infections, or like ailments can be severely affected by formaldehyde.
Why should you be concerned about exposure to formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Given all of the above, it’s not surprising that a study that was published in a 2007 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine indicates that regular use of sprays can increase your risk of developing asthma by 30 to 50 percent.
This study was performed by the European Community Respiratory Health Survey, and collected data from 3,500 people in 10 European countries.
The residual chemicals from common cleaning and deodorizing products often result in accidental poisonings to the very people who were supposedly being protected. Some toxic chemicals accumulate in ever-increasing amounts in the human body over a period of years, so the health consequences are rarely attributed to them.
Victims sometimes suffer from a strange form of cancer, or they might have some new-age disease like chronic fatigue syndrome; and of course, there is the growing popularity of ‘genetic disorders’.
You may find the causes of your suffering health in your cleaning products, medicine cabinet, laundry products, foods, municipal water, in “healthy” products (soy, canola, margarine), and in your air fresheners. There is an endless barrage of unregulated, toxic retail products; ranging from Clorox wipes to hand sanitizers and air fresheners. The long-term health consequences of these products multiplied together invariably become much worse than any infection or other seemingly isolated ailment.
It is usually assumed that these products must go through rigorous safety testing before placement in retail stores, but this is not true. The cleaning industry is self-regulated, which translates to no regulation. Chemical companies do not need permission from any authoritative body before releasing their latest air fresheners or cleanup wipes. In fact, it took months for the F.D.A. to even warn Clarcon Biological Chemistry Laboratory Inc. that bacteria was living inside its line of supposedly anti-bacterial products. The hand sanitizer was eventually voluntarily recalled, but only after the situation became a public relations problem for both organizations. These voluntary recalls are the most common type, and the term “voluntary” indicates that the F.D.A. officially informed the guilty corporation that it would not take any action against it. The phrase “voluntary recall” seriously means this in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
Air fresheners are thought to be even further outside the jurisdiction of regulators than most products. To its credit, the State of California forces labeling of ingredients that are known to cause cancer or reproductive harm, under Proposition 65, but this is the entirety of this industry’s regulations.
The Natural Resources Defense Council studied the effects of air fresheners, discovering that they currently undergo no safety testing. The results were disturbing, because they revealed high levels of phthalates, which are known to be especially harmful to children. These chemicals were even present in sprays which were claimed to be “All-Natural” and “unscented”. Phthalates were not disclosed in the list of ingredients for any of the products.
“Phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals that can be particularly dangerous for young children and unborn babies. Exposure to phthalates can affect testosterone levels and lead to reproductive abnormalities, including abnormal genitalia and reduced sperm production. The State of California notes that five types of phthalates — including one that we found in air freshener products — are ‘known to cause birth defects or reproductive harm.'”
— Natural Resources Defense Council
1,4-Dichlorobenzene is a chemical that is found in the blood of 96% of Americans. It has been linked to lung damage, is a known carcinogen, and it is an E.P.A. registered pesticide. Studies found it to increase rates of asthma. It can be found in the majority of air fresheners, toilet deodorizers, and mothballs. It works by attacking the receptors in the nose, and thus eliminating the sense of smell. This is how the new generation of air fresheners actually “freshen”.
This chemical was introduced into the American market with the Febreze product from Proctor & Gamble. The new generation of air fresheners that were inspired by the success of Febreze are literally using chemical warfare to destroy their customers’ sense of smell. That lack of smell is where the illusion of freshness comes from. The user only smells these air fresheners for about a minute after they have been sprayed, and then the nose cannot smell most fragrances anymore. This is not a normal adjustment to odors, anymore than a loss of one of the other four senses. The process is the equivalent of using a chemical blinding agent to escape the unpleasantness of a bright light; when that chemical is known to be both poisonous and carcinogenic.
By design, the freshening chemical causes damage to the mucous membrane, which is claimed to be temporary. However, no long-term studies have ever been done to test the effects of chronic exposure. It is important to remember that anything inhaled is immediately absorbed into the blood through the lungs relatively unchanged.
Dichlorobenzene is, in large part, the reason why so many pet birds die directly after the use of air fresheners.
Due to hundreds of reports of bird deaths on the Internet, Procter & Gamble (Febreze manufacturer) funded its own internal study into this, and (without surprise) concluded that there are no safety issues whatsoever concerning pet birds or human beings.
Dichlorobenzene is the main ingredient used to manufacture the infamous pesticide DDT, and its cousins, DDE and DDD. Chlorine alone has a tendency to form DDT and DDT-like compounds when it reacts with many other substances. These compounds disrupt the endocrine system by destroying hormones throughout a body, in a similar manner to BPA; but in a much more powerful way. Sometimes exposure results in horrific health problems that never completely disappear.
It may help readers to put the situation into perspective by being made aware that their use of most air freshener brands is the literal practice of inhaling small amounts of DDT. Inhalation is much more dangerous than oral ingestion of the same amount.
“Problems associated with DDT, as well as many chlorinated hydrocarbons, involved their tendency to concentrate in the fat of humans, livestock, aquatic food chains, and wildlife. This latter phenomena, called bioaccumulation, has had, and continues to have, severe adverse effects on many forms of wildlife…
“Since implementation of [the DDT ban], residues of the pesticides have significantly decreased in many regions where they were formerly used. However, DDT, DDD and DDE persist in the environment for a very long time. DDT, DDD and DDE residues can still be found in most areas of the United States”… [80 years later]
— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The issues of synthetic fragrances have been around for years, and have led to many companies selling unscented options. Some fragrances cause changes in blood flow, blood pressure, mood, and trigger migraine headaches. A massive 72% of asthmatics cite these fragrances as a trigger in causing asthma attacks, and they have been implicated as a cause for the initial development of asthma. Asthma rates in the United States have doubled since 1980, and the use of air fresheners has doubled since just 2003. Most synthetic fragrances are also known respiratory irritants, which means that they cause inflammation in the lungs, leading to an increased mucous production, and a greater vulnerability to other chemicals, allergens, and infections. Ninety-five percent of synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum. They include benzene and aldehydes; which are known to cause cancers, reproductive effects, and problems with the central nervous system. These effects on the nervous system result in increased cases of Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and more. A study from 1991 entitled, Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes, tested the effects of fragrances among test subjects. When asthmatics were exposed to cologne for 10 minutes, their pulmonary function was impaired by 58% from a previous 18% handicap. Of the 60 asthmatics that they surveyed, 57 complained of respiratory symptoms with exposure to common scents.
Phthalates, like those found in air freshener mists, are usually used in the production of PVC plastics. All air fresheners containing phthalates lack any labeling to indicate their presence. Phthalates are also found in air fresheners that are labeled “unscented” and “all natural”. With an estimated 75% of consumers using air fresheners in their homes, we strongly recommend improving ventilation systems to dilute these chemicals as much as possible, if they cannot be eliminated altogether.
According to the Environmental Working Group, phthalates produce liver cancer, but this link has not been officially acknowledged by regulatory agencies.
The chemicals emitted from air fresheners (and other toxic products) accumulate in the fatty tissues over time, so the danger increases as they build up inside a body. The presence of toxins inside fat can make weight loss difficult. Since the human body uses fat to store certain materials that are too toxic for it to process, breaking down the fat would mean releasing those toxins again, so a body may resist fat loss for self-defense. Thus, fat retention is sometimes the result of an immune system properly responding to a danger.
Sooner or later, society will have to revert to old-fashioned means of cleaning, cooking, and keeping our homes smelling pleasant. This will include the removal of non-stick pans, air fresheners, and hand sanitizers. While they may make certain tasks easier, avoiding them is an essential step to ensure a long, healthy life for your family. Since children are most at risk, we hope that those reading this will dispose of their air fresheners, to minimize the exposure of those who are not able to protect themselves.
Clearly, your health is best served by minimizing exposure to synthetic air fresheners and other synthetic products that are designed to emit a prolonged artificial scent.
Obviously, the biggest issue is that these ingredients really shouldn’t be allowed in products that will be sprayed into the air, inhaled, or absorbed directly into the bloodstream through skin contact. But there are other issues like duping the public into thinking that they are somehow cleaning the air and eliminating odors. They simply mask them.
As for the toxic effects, not to worry, Proctor and Gamble also offers a wide selection of drugs that can address many of the symptoms and conditions linked to Febreze ingredients.
Can you say “conflict of interest” as fast as you can send a toxic whiff of Febreze into the air?
What’s the alternative? Simply keeping the clothing, house or office clean and well-ventilated and using an exhaust fan, if needed, solves most problems. Remove the cause of the offending smell—whether by drying and cleaning off mold, removing rotting food or other material, and emptying the trash regularly. Baking soda absorbs odors in the refrigerator and elsewhere. Growing plants can help or simmering spices briefly. Also, you can simmer 4 lemons (cut in fourths) on the stove for about 45 minutes to an hour to obtain a wonderful lemon fragrance that is nontoxic.
In a recent sad case a firm hired to vacuum the heating ducts in a house finished off with a heavy spray of “freshener” into the air ducts. The family became very ill and have had to move to another home.
In summary, I believe we need to realize that “clean” does not have a “scent”!! We have all been brainwashed to believe that “clean” means some kind of toxic fragrance—whether it be our air, clothes, or body. But “clean” really has a very “neutral” smell—non-offensive and nontoxic! If you really want to freshen the air… OPEN SOME WINDOWS!! That’s where you’ll find truly fresh air. How arrogant of we humans to think we could improve upon God’s fresh air by creating a chemical concoction in a can!