Air Fresheners are Toxic

Ask Dr. Weil: Air Fresheners
Are they bad for my health?
By Andrew Weil, M.D., Prevention

Q: I use air fresheners in my home, but have been told I shouldn’t.
Are they bad for my health?

A: It certainly looks like they are. Recent research strongly
suggests that they raise your risk of a number of pulmonary diseases.
Last year researchers found that being exposed to chemicals from air
fresheners as little as once a week may increase your odds of
developing asthma symptoms by 71 percent. And 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.

Other studies point to a cancer link. University of California,
Berkeley, researchers determined that, when used in small, poorly
ventilated rooms, some air fresheners emit pollutants that create
high levels of formaldehyde, a carcinogen shown to cause cancer in
animals and respiratory irritation in20humans.

Last year, the Natural Resources Defense Council evaluated 14 air
fresheners, 12 of which had varying amounts of phthalates, chemicals
that may affect fertility, cause cancer, and trigger developmental
abnormalities in infants. The NRDC and other environmental groups
filed a petition calling for all air freshener-related products to be
tested for consumer safety and regulated by the government.

I recommend freshening the air by opening windows and eliminating the
sources of unpleasant odors. If you enjoy aromas indoors, opt for
natural items such as a lavender plant, potted herbs, or a bouquet of
fresh flowers.

Andrew Weil, M.D., is a pioneer in the field of holistic health and
founder and director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the
College of Medicine, University of Arizona. He received his medical
training at Harvard University.

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