Are Air-fresheners and scented cleaning products damaging?
Did you know that we could be damaging our health just by lighting scented candles or using air-fresheners? Many household cleaning products and air-fresheners contain a product known as limonene which is used as a scent. Lab studies have shown that for every two molecules of limonene released one molecule of a chemical called formaldehyde is also formed.
Formaldehyde belongs to the family of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a large, diverse class of compounds that are common in indoor air. In small concentrations, they are a normal part of our environment. However, exposure to high levels of VOCs indoors is a source of concern among health professionals, particularly their effect on the delicate airways such as children or the elderly. As homes are now insulated better than ever they also tend to be airtight which reduces the flow of fresh air which would otherwise reduce the levels of formaldehyde. This is one area where old, draughty houses are better for us; a good airflow leads to fewer toxic chemicals.
So should you throw out the scented candles and let the floors get muddy? Not quite yet. In the 1980s, NASA published a paper supporting evidence for a simple way of to reduce chemical levels in enclosed space stations. The great scientific breakthrough? The humble houseplant! Certain common plants were shown to remove toxic agents naturally from the air. The BBC’s Trust Me I am a Doctor series ran an experiment; they looked at what happens in our earthbound homes when simple house plants are introduced.
The plants were chosen based on previous research – chlorophytum (spider plant), dracaena (dragon tree), scindapsus (golden pothos) and Hedera helix (English ivy). Plants were placed in three volunteer family homes. What they found is that levels of formaldehyde could be reduced even when continuing to use scented cleaning products and candles.
The key finding, however, is that we can control the levels of chemicals in our homes by using fewer scented cleaning products (or by choosing fragrance free cleaning products). And the next time you light a candle open a window as well.
Maid By Mary also has a special range of organic cleaning products that does not contain limonene – ask for information on your Maid’s next visit.
The full article can be found here: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jan/18/home-sweet-home-combat-indoor-pollution-scented-candles-cleaning-products