The Stinky Truth About PlugIns (& Other Chemical Based Air Fresheners)

Americans are expected to spend 1.72 billion dollars on air fresheners this year. People are purchasing these products in an effort to disguise unpleasant odors but the biggest disguise lies in their ingredients, which don’t have to be listed. That’s right. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that’s unregulated, meaning there are no rules or restrictions in place – NONE.

What are Common Air Fresheners?

• Glade PlugIns
• Febreze
• Scented Candles
• Car Fresheners

So what else are these products masking besides a foul odor? Mainly, a number of health risks which include but are certainly not limited to allergy and asthma symptoms along with your compounded exposure to toxic and deadly carcinogens.

The Deadly Ingredients

The deadliest ingredient contained in air fresheners is phthalates. Studies on both humans and animals suggest that exposure to this substance can cause cancer, developmental and hormonal abnormalities and infertility. Children are the most susceptible to the harmful effects of this chemical which is banned from being used in most infant and children’s toys. According to the National Institutes of Health the risks include “allergic conditions such as asthma and eczema along with alterations in infant/toddler physical development as well as parent-reported externalizing, internalizing, and autistic-like child behavior”. The National Institute of Environmental Health Science conducted a study and found a positive correlation between asthma and allergy symptoms in children who were exposed to phthalates.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has no regulations on the use of phthalates and unlike the European Union and 14 other countries that ban this product. The U.S. does not require the labeling of phthalate on products – so they are NOT listed.

The list of harmful ingredients goes on, especially when you take into account the aerosol plug-in air “fresheners”. Some of the ingredients they contain that you should avoid being exposed to include:

Acetaldehyde: According to the EPA, the primary acute effect of inhalation exposure to acetaldehyde is irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract in humans. At higher exposure levels, erythema, coughing, pulmonary edema, and necrosis may also occur.

Acetone: The inhalation of acetone can irritate the nose and throat and at higher concentrations can harm the nervous system. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and confusion. A severe exposure can cause unconsciousness according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety.

Butane: Yes, you are inhaling lighter fluid.

Propane: Harms your blood liver, kidney, repertory and nervous symptom. That’s why it’s advised that propane only be used outdoors.

Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is classified as a human carcinogen and needs to be avoided at all costs.

Who’s At Risk?

Everyone should be concerned about exposure to these chemicals be it through air fresheners or other sources. Remember, just because a product is on a store shelf doesn't mean it is safe and that it doesn't have devastating consequences to your health. Why? Because these products and their chemical cocktail are NOT appropriately regulated.

I recommend everyone from staying away from chemical based air fragrance products. Certain populations should exercise extreme care with chemical based air fresheners such as children, the elderly and immune compromised. It is ESPECIALLY important for pregnant women and women who are trying to conceive to stay away from these chemicals. Not only so they don’t decrease their fertility efforts but also to avoid any possible birth defects for their unborn child.

What Are My Choices?

There are so many alternatives available you’ll never miss your old toxic air fresheners.
First of all, try eliminating your need for air fresheners in the first place. Baking soda and vinegar are great all natural cleaners and they really can kill – not mask – odors. Use them in your garbage disposal, trash cans, bathroom and rugs. The cheapest solution? Open the windows and let in some fresh air!

Once the source of odors is solved, I love filling my home with fresh, all natural scents. It doesn’t have to be man made to be effective! I’ll often buy myself some fresh flowers or a nice bunch of lavender. For lasting results I use essential oils. Essential oils go a long way, the bottles last a long time and you get added emotional benefits from using them. Some of my favorites are:

Lavender: Calms the nervous system
Rosemary: Improves memory
Orange: Refreshes and relaxes
Peppermint: Promotes mental clarity

You can make your own oil diffusers at home with a small jar and some reeds or make your own air freshening spray. One of my favorite ideas is to take a small decorative jar or bowl, add some rice and a few drops of lavender and put it next to my bed. Lavender is calming and is ideal to help promote relaxation and sleep.

Grow Fresh Air With Plants!
Plants in the home can reduce indoor air pollutants by up to 85% as proven by NASA studies. Here are three effective recommendations that help REMOVE toxins from your air.

  1. Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) -  It produces more oxygen than the average plant and also removes xylene and toluene from the air.
  2. Snake Plant a.k.a. Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) - It converts carbon dioxide to oxygen at night (perfect for your bedroom). It also removes formaldehyde from the air. NOTE: Snake Plants are toxic to cats and dogs when eaten and should be kept out of reach of children.
  3. Money Plant (Epipremnum aureum) - Is an all-purpose air-purifier. Removes formaldehyde and a host of other volatile chemicals with robust filtering power. As with the Snake Plant they are toxic to cats and dogs when eaten and should be kept out of reach of children.

Check out this great TED Talk that reviews the value of these very plants for detoxing your home or office air.

There is no reason you should be risking your health by using chemical based air fresheners (such as PlugIns). They are not necessary. There are plenty of healthy alternatives available; it just takes a little creativity. At the end of the day, is it really worth the toxic load from Plug-Ins or any other chemical based air freshener to have fake fragrance floating through your home air, that ultimately ends up in you AND your loved ones?

These suggestions will help you eliminate the need to purchase chemical based air fresheners such as PlugIns. If you need support to eliminate your current toxic buildup of these or any other everyday environmental toxins, join me for an Energy Breakthrough Session.

May you be well and thrive!


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