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Home Fragrance Products


Did you know that those air-fresheners you have been using for your home to sweeten unpleasant orders and leave your home smelling fresh - could be dangerous to your family's health?

I don't personally use them, as that was always my biggest fear - but studies now substantiate what has bothered me about them, and that is, that those chemicals in the spray are just plain bad for you....

It's no surprise that we don't want unpleasant smells around. After all, we spend an average of 90 per cent of our time indoors (according to Health Canada), and we're willing to pay to make our environments more pleasant. Air fresheners are a booming business -- it's a $200 million market in Canada, and an estimated three out of five Canadians use these products in their homes. Air fresheners also appear in many public places including offices and institutions.

However, fragranced products are anathema for people with chemical sensitivities and allergies -- and new research is warning that air fresheners can pose a threat to everyone. Air fresheners contain chemicals that mask odours or deaden or interfere with our sense of smell. Some chemicals actually line the inside of the nasal passage.

But where is the proof scientific proof?

Air fresheners have been the focus of a few studies over the past couple of years. A 2007 European study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that regularly using fragranced sprays increased the risk of asthma by as much as 50 per cent. Another study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that most sprays, gels and plug in air fresheners it tested contained phthalates (known hormone disruptors), even if they were labelled as "all-natural" or "unscented".

But that's not all... In July 2008, a University of Washington study published in Environmental Impact Assessment found that six top-selling fragranced products (three of which were air fresheners) contained nearly 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Ten of those VOCs are classified as toxic under U.S. Laws. Further research is underway.

In addition, scientists in Korea found that many household products such as air fresheners emit toxic compounds. All 42 products they tested contained acetone, ethanol, limonene, perchloroethylene (PCE), phenol, and 1-propanol. Another 10 per cent of products also contained other potentially hazardous chemicals.

Closer to home, the CBC recently tested air fresheners currently available in Canada. They found that nearly one third contained DBP and/or DEP (the same two phthalates banned from children's toys in 12 European countries). The phthalates are used to make the scent last longer.

To get rid of odours:

- There's something to be said for a good "airing out". Open the windows when weather and outdoor air quality permit. Good ventilation is important to disperse and dilute odours.

- If you don't have an air exchange ventilation in your home, place a fan in the window pointing outwards to blow air out of the room. Open a second window to promote a breeze

- Make sure areas of your home where moisture builds up, like the bathroom or basement, are well-ventilated to discourage mould.

- A box of baking soda works well in small, enclosed spaces (not just your fridge or freezer). You can also sprinkle it on carpets (which tend to absorb odours) and vacuum up.

- Try setting out bowls of vinegar or put it in a spray bottle and mist the room.

- Make your own air freshener. There are many good recipes on the internet such as RecipeZaar, or check your local library for books on making all-natural cleaners.

- Try an odour-absorbing product like the Volcanic Deodorizer from Lee Valley ($17.50 for a bag covering up to 4800 cubic feet). Some time in the sun every six months and a yearly rinse with salt water will keep this product going indefinitely.

- Look for environmentally-friendly odour neutralizing sprays, such as those that contain enzymes like Nature's Fresh. The enzymes work on "organic odours" like urine and smoke.

- Purchase an air purifier or filter for use in the home to reduce odours and allergens in the air. These products can be a little pricey, ranging from $50 - $300, so assess your needs carefully and watch for sales.

To add some scent:

- Try an essential oil from your local natural food or health food store. A few drops in a diffuser will add some chemical-free scent to the room.

- Simmer some citrus rinds or other spices like cinnamon in a pot on your stove top. Lemon is a good way to banish cooking odours.

- Place some dried flowers or herbs around your home. You can cheat a little and add a drop or two of essential oil to refresh it.

- Grow a fragrant plant such as certain flowers or herbs.

*info excerpted from 50Plus.com

So at the end of the day - its your choice - but wouldn't you rather be safe than sorry?

Also - for moms in the Lower Mainland of BC, HomeWorks Etc. is having an Open House sale on November 30th, located at 6642 193A Street in Surrey between 10am - 5pm, with 20% - 50% off! HomeWorks Etc. offers decor and home accessories that are unique, stylish and heartwarming - absolutely amazing stuff and a great gift idea for Christmas! Visit their website at www.homeworksetc.ca to see their entire line of accessories.




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