the ecovangelist


Air Fresheners, are they really freshening your air? November 10, 2011

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Oh the fresh scent of roses and lilacs. Don’t you wish your home could smell so fragrant all the time? Well with more then 100 varieties of air fresheners, sprays, plug-ins, you can get the artificial scent of “ocean breeze”, “clean linen” or “country garden” whenever you’d like. While I personally have banned the use of any sort of air freshener in my home, I was surprised to learn that 75% of US households use either a plug-in, gel-fragrance, spray or stand-alone air freshener. So you must be wondering what’s the big deal, air fresheners are little boxes of scented joy!! Unfortunately, air fresheners are horrible for your health.  They have been found to trigger asthma, sinusitis, and allergies.  Also, they are extremely high in phthalates (check out my post on phthalates), which have been linked to:

                  • Decreased sperm count
                  • Infertility
                  • Cancer
                  • Decreased pulmonary function
                  • Asthma
                  • Brain development in fetus and infants
                  • Reproductive development
                  • Endocrine and Thyroid disruption
                  • Anti-androgen effects
                  • Obesity and type II diabetes

Even air fresheners labeled as all-natural had high levels of phthalates.

Many common ingredients used in air fresheners are: formaldehyde, dichlorobenzene (a carcinogen), chloromethane (a neurotoxicant) among several other harmful chemicals.  In addition, air fresheners contribute to indoor air pollution and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  High levels of indoor air pollutants are linked to asthma, respiratory disease and inflammation.  In fact, allergists at Emory University have discovered that asthmatics lung function changes when they are exposed to chemicals in air fresheners. A report from the NRDC also found that chemicals in air fresheners could effect reproductive development.

So next time you want to “plug-in”, go and buy some fresh flowers.  Here are some other tips on what you can do to freshen the air:

  • Open your windows and doors to circulate air
  • Use naturally fragrant items like flowers, cloves or cinnamon sticks
  • Lemon, Lime or Orange Peel
  • Vanilla Essence or Mint Extract
  • Try to eliminate the source of the putrid smell
  • Use baking soda to eliminate odor

For more information check out:


Flame Retardants ….the burning truth April 4, 2010

Filed under: Around your body — theecovangelist @ 9:33 am
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What are Flame Retardants?

Flame Retardants are commonly used to prevent the spread of fires. While chemical flame retardants have done an excellent job of protecting us from fires, low dose exposures have been linked to health concerns. Several types of chemical flame retardants such as octaBDE & pentaBDE have been banned in the US due to increasing health concerns. However Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDE, type DecaBDE is still in use, and is required by the state of California to be used on several products.

Why are Flame Retardants used?

The original intent of PBDEs was to prevent the spread of fires. This was more imperative when indoor smoking cigarettes was prevalent. With the decrease in smoking, the risk of home fires has reduced and an excess of PBDEs are unnecessary.

Health Concerns with PBDE:

PBDEs are of greatest concern for children and pregnant women. Limited human studies have been conducted on PBDEs. However, of the limited studies that have been done, they have shown that exposure to PBDEs, can possibly cause the following:

  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Decreased Fertility
  • Developmental, reduced IQ
  • Liver toxicity
  • Cancer (in animals studies)

How am I exposed to Flame Retardants?

    • Products sprayed with PBDEs
      • Sofas
      • Mattresses & other furniture
      • Carpet Padding
      • Children’s clothing
      • Computers , TVs & other Electronics
    • Food: Since PBDEs are overly used in our environment, they have found their way into the eco-system via disposal of chemicals – especially in marine life. People are now exposed to PBDEs through consumption of dairy, fish, beef and other high fatty foods.
    • Americans were found to have 20 times greater PBDE levels in their body, compared to Europeans.
    • PBDEs bioaccumulate, meaning they are largely resistant to environmental degradation/decomposition. Essentially, they survive in our environment and bodies for a very long time.


Children’s Clothing:

Currently majority of children’s pajamas have PBDEs incorporated in the fibers. If you want to purchase clothing that is PBDE free, look for labels that state they are flame retardant free

  • Organic sleepwear is often free of PBDEs
  • Some polyester fabrics are naturally fire resistant and do not require PBDEs
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission does not require tight fitting sleepwear to be flame resistant

What Can I do?

    • Purchase Mattresses that are flame retardant free (options listed below)
      • Avoid furniture labeled as meeting California TB 117
    • Vacuum and dust often, since primary route of exposure is through inhaling dust
    • Keep windows and doors open for cross ventilation
    • Purchase flame retardant free children’s clothing
    • Limit consumption of high fatty foods such as beef, fish, butter
    • Wash your hands before eating or handling food
    • Install a Fire Detector to protect you from fires


Flame Retardant Free Mattresses

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