Monday, September 10, 2007

Day Sixty-Seven - Clearing the Air

Giving Up All My Plug-In Air Fresheners

OK, for those of you who don't know, I have a husband, two toddlers (one still in diapers and one with poor aim), a dog, a compost pail, stinky feet and have recently adopted "To Hell With Personal Hygiene Day". If ever there has been a house worthy of air-freshening, it is mine. However, I've been doing some research on the ubiquitous plug-in air freshener and now I think I smell a rat.

Turns out my little light-up frangrance wafters aren't as benign as I thought. They use an interesting mix of chemicals that work in one of the following four ways:

  1. By interfering with your ability to smell by way of a nerve-deadening agent
  2. By coating your nasal passages with an undetectable oil film
  3. By covering up one smell with another
  4. By breaking down the offensive odor

The fun chemicals used to accomplish this task include some old favorites including:

  • FORMALDEHYDE - A suspected carcinogen and a strong irritant to the eyes, throat, skin and lungs
  • PETROLEUM DISTILLATES - Irritates skin, eyes, respiratory tract; may cause fatal pulmonary edema; flammable
  • P-DICHLOROBENZENE - Vapor irritating to skin, eyes and throat, causes liver damage in animal studies
  • AEROSOL PROPELLANTS - Either associated with brain damage or highly flammable

Wow, and I use this stuff to make my house feel more "homey"? Ugh. I have Freecycled all my air fresheners (how the heck did I ever end up with FIFTEEN of those things anyhow?) and am now using baking soda boxes, candles and -- God forbid -- CLEANING (using natural products, of course!).


Any time I reduce the chemical load in my home, I also reduce the chemical load in my environment. Those chemicals float around the house and then float right outside. Plus I'm saving all the plastic of the plug-ins, the electricity, the packaging and the transport. Lots of good savings. The candles I use to replace them are made here in the USA, are packaged in a recyclable glass container, the wicks are lead-free and they smell DELICIOUS. The only drawback is that they seem to make me eat more (sure, blame the candles....)

Difficulty Level: 1 out of 5

Another easy change to make. Out with the old and in with the new. I just need to be careful when using the candles while the little ones are running around.


gregra&gar said...

Good choice, Erin. Air fresheners always reminded me of litter campaigns in that their purpose is to mask unsolved problems. Our olfactory system evolved to find food and be warned of danger, air fresheners are like blindfolding oneself and depending on known liars for guidance. Besides the damned things stink worse than cologne.

Jenelle said...


Have you considered adding more plants to your house to naturally clean the air? If you cover this in a later post I appologize.