Are air fresheners bad for you?

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Are air fresheners bad for you?

If you're trying to live a more natural lifestyle, you might start looking at the ingredients list on your personal care and cleaning products. Chances are, you'll see one common ingredient in almost all of them: "fragrance."

When we started to look into the air fresheners we'd been using in our homes for years, we were shocked to find that there are no ingredient transparency requirements or safety standards in place for the home fragrance industry. 

Most of our favorite air fresheners, sprays, and candles claiming to be “natural” or “made with essential oils” weren’t actually safe or natural at all. There were harmful chemicals and toxins hiding behind the ‘fragrance’ ingredient on the label. 

The good news is that we have an easy way to avoid it and a great alternative for you!

Are Conventional Air Fresheners Bad?

Many air fresheners can contain chemicals that can cause respiratory problems and asthma, including some that are classified as "known carcinogens." They also often include p-dichlorobenzene, a chemical that's been linked to endocrine disruption.

Air fresheners often contain synthetic fragrances that can trigger allergies and headaches for people who have asthma or respiratory problems.

Let's look at some of the concerns with conventional air fresheners:

  • Some air fresheners contain chemicals that have been linked to cancer, asthma attacks, and endocrine disruption. Formaldehyde in particular has been shown to cause birth defects, as well as nausea and headaches even in low concentrations.
  • Methylisothiazolinone is another common ingredient found in many popular brands of air fresheners. It has been shown to irritate both skin and eyes at low levels of concentration -– meaning that when you spray your aerosol air freshener or plug-in device into your home, you are exposing yourself to an allergen that could potentially cause a range of health hazards from mild skin rash (such as eczema) to lung inflammation (since you're inhaling tiny particles of this chemical). This is particularly bad news for people who have allergies or asthma because they will be more susceptible to these side effects.
  • Benzisothiazolinone: This chemical is an allergen that "may produce an allergic reaction," according to the Good Guide. It can cause serious skin irritation, rashes and even eye damage if it gets into your eyes. The EWG notes that skin exposure can also lead to asthma attacks in children with asthma.

Phthalates In Air Fresheners

One of the most concerning chemicals found in air fresheners are phthalates, a family of chemicals that can be absorbed into your body through inhalation or skin contact.

Phthalates are commonly used in air fresheners to make scents last longer. There are different types of phthalates used in fragrance products, majorly Diethyl phthalates (DEP) and Di(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalates (DEHP) are widely found.

Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, which means they can interfere with the production, release, transport, metabolism and excretion of hormones. 

The endocrine system plays a huge role in regulating mood, growth and development. It even affects the way our organs function, so messing with it is not something you want to do! Phthalates have also been linked to cancer as well as liver, kidney and lung damage and reproductive issues. 

What's hiding behind “Fragrance”?

Air fresheners are not regulated by the FDA, which means there is no requirement for manufacturers to list all ingredients on their labels. In fact, manufacturers are not required to list any ingredients at all! This may make it difficult for consumers with allergies or sensitivities to know if an air freshener contains a substance they need to avoid. 

Companies do this (use the word "fragrance" as a catch-all term) because they don't want to give away their secret recipes. There's no way of knowing exactly what's in these products, but research has linked fragrance ingredients like phthalates to health problems including hormone disruption, reproductive and thyroid issues, respiratory problems and even cancer. 

And it's not just air fresheners. Fragrances are found in all kinds of personal care products—from deodorant to makeup to shampoo—and can aggravate asthma if inhaled.

Here's What to Look Out For

To figure out if a product contains fragrances, first look at the ingredients list on the package label (for example, “parfum” is a fragrance ingredient). If you see “fragrance” listed among the ingredients, that product most likely has chemicals of concern. You can also use EWG's Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database or our Healthy Living app to see how your favorite personal care products rate for fragrance safety and other concerns.

This doesn't necessarily mean that all fragrances are bad—it just means that we don't know whether they are or not because of the lack of transparency in the ingredient list. A number of studies have shown that many fragrance chemicals can cause skin irritation and allergies, and some have even been linked to birth defects, damage to human cells, and hormone disruption.

What to Use Instead

But don’t give up hope if you love air fresheners, room sprays and candles! The best air freshener is made from nature- 100% plant-based, non-aerosol, and toxin free. That means it’s free of the three big chemicals to avoid: formaldehyde, phthalates, and parabens. 

100% plant based non toxic toxin free air fresheners

To feel good about a product, you deserve to know what's in it, and what's not

With 100% plant-based fragrances and full ingredient transparency, we believe you have the right to know what’s in the products you bring into your home-without compromising on beautiful scents!

You can feel good about using our line of luxurious 100% plant-based sprays and candles scents, knowing exactly what's in them—and why it's there. 

See our Top 5 Best Selling Scents Here

Or 

Learn more about our Eco-Friendly Refillable Candles here

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