The dangers of indoor chemical pollution


Air "Fresheners"

Next to pharmaceuticals, nothing in recent years has been pushed harder upon us than the vast array of indoor chemical so-called air "fresheners" or room "deodorizers."  These products include metered sprays, plug-ins, sticks, wicks, mists, aerosols, carpet "cleaners," scented candles and even scented stones.  There's virtually no place in the American business world that not only has these "fresheners" in every bathroom, but they're also in lobbies, hallways, office spaces and, most frightening, nurseries worldwide. 

Homeowners are seduced through clever advertising to ensure that as many rooms as possible have these "fresheners" circulating various chemical scents throughout the house.  Gullible consumers can even extend this passion for perfumed air by installing "fresheners" in their cars, where a variety of chemically-induced scents fill the car's interior.  Due to loopholes and favoritism regarding the chemical perfume industry, companies pushing these products aren't even required to list the ingredients of anything labeled as "fragrance." [1] 

no way, shape or form does a chemically-scented fragrance and/or aerosols propelled by butane, propane or other toxins create an indoor environment of fresh air.  Chemical "deodorizers" or chemical air "fresheners" only mask other odors.  These products do absolutely nothing to improve the quality of indoor air, and in fact, can contribute to a host of ailments from headaches, high pulse rate and nausea; to mention a few. 

Reports of the dangers of chemical air "fresheners" are just beginning to make the news.  A recent MSN article stated that being exposed to air "freshener" chemicals as little as once a week can increase your odds of developing asthma symptoms as much as 71 percent and can contribute to an increased risk of a number of pulmonary diseases.  [2]  The article went on to state that "A 2006 study showed that people with high blood levels of the chemical 1.4 dichlorobenzene -- commonly found in air fresheners -- were more likely to experience a decline in lung function."

A September 2007 TIME magazine article, 'How "Fresh" is Air Freshener' reported that the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) discovered that most chemical air "fresheners" contained variable amounts of substances called phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates).  Besides the use of phthalates used as sealants and adhesives and to soften plastics, they are also used to dissolve and carry fragrances.  The TIME article went on to report that "phthalates are commonly found in a variety of products, including cosmetics, paints, nail polish and children's toys -- and have long been at the center of a larger international controversy over their health effects."  [3]

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no regulations on the use of phthalates, does not require the labeling of phthalates content on products and does not consider the quantities to which people are exposed to be harmful, even though studies have suggested that high exposure to certain kinds of phthalates can cause cancer, developmental and sex-hormone abnormalities in infants, and can affect fertility.  [4 ]

The chemical ingredients in "deodorizers" – or anything else dealing with chemicals – can be found on the product’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Let's look at several popular chemical so-called  "deodorizers" and air "fresheners" :

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Metered Aerosol Sprays







 The biggest overuse of chemical air "fresheners" is the boom in metered "deodorizers" that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of chemical spray dispensers being placed in workplaces throughout America.  These dispensers typically hold 7-ounce aerosol cans, range in dozens of chemical "fragrances," and the estimated 3,400 - 3,900 metered sprays per can are triggered by battery-operated automatic aerosol dispenser units several times an hour. 

what are these chemical spray mists that we're subjected to by aggressive sales people and unsuspecting employers?  You'll notice a "CAS" number following each chemical name.  CAS is an abbreviation for "Chemical Abstracts Service," a uniform number given most chemicals in the chemical industry.  Let's look at some of the distributors and ingredients of several metered aerosol products:

Peach, Product # 465
, Big D Industries, Oklahoma City, OK, 73148 1-   Ingredients: Acetone (CAS # 67-64-1); Liquefied Petroleum Gas (CAS # 68476-85-7); Fragrance (no CAS #).  The label states, "Strong drafts of forced air or wind will remove the effectiveness of the deodorant..."  In other words, one is to assume, keep it confined.  Compare that with the warning on this next one: 

Clean & Fresh, Time Mist, Waterbury Companies, Inc., P.O. Box 1812, Waterbury, CT, 06722 .  Ingredients: Acetone (CAS # 67-64-1);  Diethylene Glycol Monoethyl Ether (CAS # 111-90-0); Propane (CAS # 74-98-6); Perfume (CAS # N/A); and C8-C9 Isoparaffinic Hydrocarbons (CAS # 64742-48-9)  "Excessive inhalation in confined areas may cause headaches or dizziness." 

ropical Trade Winds, Health Gards (can you believe the audacity of such a brand name?)  HOSPECO, Cleveland, OH 44143, .  Ingredients: Petroleum distillate, aliphatic (CAS # 64742-47-8); Ethanol (CAS # 64-17-5); Propane (CAS # 74-98-6); Butane (CAS # 106-97-8); Isobutane (CAS # 75-28-5).  "Just remove the cap and hand spray to prime the area."  "Deliberately ... inhaling the vapor of the contents may be harmful or fatal." 

innascent Time Mist, Pelican Brand, Long's Preferred Products, Inc., 2630 Broadway, Alexandria, LA, 71302,    Ingredients: Acetone (CAS # 67-64-1); Fragrance (N/A); Propane (CAS # 74-98-6); Butane (CAS # 106-97-8)  "Avoid inhaling spray mist or vapor." 

There's a good reason for these warnings. Acetone -- the primary chemical in most of these products -- and Propane are classified as cardiovascular or blood toxicants, gastrointestinal or liver toxicants, kidney toxicants, neurotoxicants, respiratory toxicants and a skin or sense organ toxicants. [5]  Butane is classified as a neurotoxicant, which means that exposure can cause adverse effects on the central nervous system. [6]  Furthermore, regarding Acetone, Spectrum Chemical, a top chemical listings service, warns that "The most probable human exposure would be occupational (workplace) exposure, which may occur through inhalation." [7]
oparaffinic and Aliphatic Hydrocarbons are classified as toxic. [8]  Also, since hydrocarbons are chemical compounds containing only hydrogen and carbon, they literally suffocate oxygen in the bloodstream. [9] 

ember this the next time you inhale the fumes from one of those liquid or solid chemical air "fresheners," or when one of these timed dispensers spits a fine mist over your head while you're in a rest room, physician's waiting room, picking up your child at day care, and yes -- despite the label's warning -- where they might be installed in restaurant dining areas. 

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Scented Oils








Glade Plug-Ins Manufacturer: S.C. Johnson & Sons, Racine, Wisconsin.  Ingredients: "Amorphous Fumed Silica, Fragrance." Regulatory information: "All ingredients in this product are listed or excluded on the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory."

egarding "Amorphous Fumed Silica," OSHA states that overexposure to respirable crystalline silica can cause silicosis, a "disabling, non reversible and fatal lung disease."   Amorphous is defined as being shapeless, or to lack form; and fumed, of course, is to emit fumes.   And since "fragrance" can mean anything, S.C. Johnson is clearly taking advantage of the exclusion clause of the TSCA to push its product, regardless of whatever health hazards that may result from use of it.

Glade Car Scented Oil
Manufacturer: S.C. Johnson & Sons, Racine, Wisconsin.  Ingredient(s): "Mixture of perfume oils."  Exposure limit/toxicity: Not established. Inhalation Health Hazards Identification: "Irritation to nose, throat and respiratory tract."  First Aid Measures: "Remove to fresh air." 

.C. Johnson & Sons won't even list the "mixture of perfume oils" ingredients. The product is designed to attach to your car's dashboard air vent, enabling the fumes to circulate throughout your car.  So when Little Johnnie is being driven home after breathing hazardous chemicals in his day care all day, your child can be polluted further with an additional dose of perfumed poison. The MSDS of Glade Care Scented Oil warns that "Irritation to nose, throat and respiratory tract" is a possible health hazard.  Presumably, then, you're supposed to hold your breath as you drive while using this product. 

ir Wick Scented Oil Manufacturer: Reckitt Benckiser, Inc., Wayne, N.J. "Scented oil is used in an adjustable plug-in air freshener unit."   Ingredients: "Proprietary fragrance oils." 

gain, "fragrance oils."  Yet because of special privileges and loopholes granted to the chemical industry in regards to perfumes and fragrances, Air Wick is not required to disclose the "proprietary fragrance oils" ingredients.

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Carpet "Deodorizers"

Carpet Fresh C
arpet Refresher  Manufacturer: WD-40, 1061 Cudahy Place, San Diego, CA, 92110.  .  The product is a white powder that is sprinkled onto carpeting, then vacuumed up.  Ingredients: Fragrance oil.  CAS number: Not established.  Hazard data: Not established.  Effects of inhalation overexposure: Possible mild mucous irritation.  First Aid Procedure: Remove to fresh air.

"Fragrance oil" is the only ingredient listed, then what is the white powder?  What is WD-40 concealing, and why would a product that's listed as a "refresher" possibly cause a consumer to have to be removed from it to fresh air?  Perhaps the following will provide a clue: 

arpet Fresh No-Vacuum Carpet Refresher  Manufacturer: WD-40.  Ingredients: Liquefied petroleum gas (CAS # 68476-85-7), Isopropanol (CAS # 67-63-0).  "Inhalation: No adverse effects experienced in an otherwise healthy individual exposed to this product during normal use.  Excessive inhalation can cause headache, drowsiness, nausea and lack of coordination." 

Otherwise healthy individual."  "Normal use."  Just don't stay in a motel with a frail parent or with an infant where this product was used (or, more commonly, overused by housekeepers). 

OSHA has classified liquefied petroleum gas as an asphyxiant (a chemical -- gas or vapor -- that can cause death or unconsciousness by suffocation) and a narcosis (a stupor or unconsciousness produced by exposure to a chemical).  And like other chemicals listed on this page, isopropanol is classified 
as a cardiovascular or blood toxicant, a developmental toxicant, an endocrine (glands) toxicant, a gastrointestina or liver toxicant, a neurotoxicant, a reproductive toxicant, a respiratory toxicant and a skin or sense organ toxicant. [8]

& Hammer Foam Carpet Deodorizer Manufacturer: Arm & Hammer  (No Address or phone number found on its website.)  The product comes in a 16-oz. can that sprays out as a foam onto the carpet, and once dried, it's vaccumed up. Although this product is available at practically any retail store such as Wal-Mart for consumers to buy and use in their homes, an Arm & Hammer spokeswoman explained that the company only sends out MSDS's to businesses, not "individuals."  The spokeswoman did, however, read over the phone the three ingredients listed on the carpet deodorizer. These ingredients are "Fragrance, surfactants and baking soda." 

gain -- and again -- fragrance can mean anything. While baking soda is certainly a safe product, surfactants are, as the spokeswoman explained, "a detergent compound."   Arm & Hammer's Foam Carpet Deodorizer is simply another perfumed mask to counter foul-smelling carpeting with dangerous chemicals that Arm & Hammer wishes to conceal from "individual" consumers.

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These are just a handful of several of the most popular "deodorizers" available  practically anywhere.  Learn what these products are; read the labels; access their MSDS's.  Educate yourself on the effects these chemicals have on yourself, your family and on others. 

Furthermore, once these products are used, the empty containers are tossed in the trash, which makes their way to landfills, where they're crushed.  Undoubtedly, residue from them leak into the ground water, and to water treatment plants, which aren't equiped to filter these chemicals.  Thus, the chemical pollution to our drinking, cooking and bath water is another serious side effect from these products:. 

1., 'Scented Secrets'
2.  'Air Fresheners: Are they bad for my Heath?' by Andrew Weil, M.D, 'Prevention,' October 2008,
, Acetone
3.  TIME, 24 September 2007, 'How "Fresh" is Air Freshener?"

4. Ibid
, Propane
www.spectrumchemical.comAcetone MSDS
8.  'Hazardous Materials & Waste  Management,' Nicholas   P. Cheremisinoff, p. 138
9.  , isopropanol












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