In a sense, I’m grateful for the fact that artificial fragrances give me horrible headaches. It has led me to discover many wonderful natural alternatives and, it turns out, protected me from exposure to toxic chemicals in my home.   

The Natural Resources Defense Council recently tested 14 of the most popular air fresheners, including aerosol sprays, plug-ins and solids. Dr. Solomon and her team found that 12 of the 14 products contained detectible levels of phthalates, a harmful chemical that is absorbed both by inhalation and through the skin. 

With repeated exposure, phthalates are known to cause birth defects and damage to the reproductive system. They inflict their damage by disrupting hormones, causing such problems as abnormal genitalia and reduced sperm counts. They pose the greatest risk to pregnant women and young children. 

I found it particularly disturbing that some of the tested products were labeled as “All Natural”. With no safety testing required by either the FDA or EPA, unscrupulous companies are free to mislead and risk the health of consumers. Fortunately, a band of four consumer advocacy groups are filing a petition calling for the EPA and CPSC to begin testing air fresheners for this toxic chemical. 

It’s estimated that 75% of American households use air fresheners regularly. If your home is one of these, you may wish to consider a more natural, and less risky, alternative. Safe products formulated with plant based odor killers, such as lavender and citrus, are becoming easily available at local co-ops and natural foods stores. 

You can also get an aromatherapy fan and some essential oils. This is a wonderful alternative as it allows you to know exactly what it is that you’re putting into your home and also gives you an opportunity to customize the scent. I’ve had mine for over two years now, and I love it! It’s a true pleasure for my senses and I feel good knowing that I’m creating a healthy environment for my family and friends.

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