Part 2: A Nurses Perspective: Indoor Air Pollution From Everyday Common Toxic Household Cleaners ~~ Can they Cause Cancer? Part 2: Air Fresheners

Air fresheners are a huge business. We all want our homes, cars and workplaces to smell fresh and clean, vibrant or relaxing.  So, when we’re shopping and smell a fragrance like vanilla, or one that reminds us of our childhood home or garden, instinctively we reach for it and put it in our cart, because the smell made us happy, or maybe relaxed.  Not once do we stop to read the list of ingredients in that scented candle or spray air freshener. After all, if it says “vanilla” or “lavender”, we expect we are in fact smelling real vanilla or lavender.

Sadly, nothing could be farther from the truth.

If you are not using pure essential oils, like Young Living Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils   to freshen up your room, by default you are using a synthetic air freshener, and, unbeknownst to you, you are inadvertently putting your health at risk from one of these very concentrated sources of poisons in your home.  This is because some of the chemicals needed to make the products effective are harmful. The problems are compounded when the products are mixed.  Far from freshening the air in your home, they just interfere with your ability to detect smells or simply cover them up, all the while adding considerable toxic chemical indoor pollution.  In 2002, EPA researchers testing air freshening units that plug into electrical sockets determined that when the fragrance chemicals in these products react with common indoor air pollutants they produce serious health hazards. These chemicals include toxic substances such as benzene derivatives, pinene and  limonene, aldehydes, phenol, and cresol.

Body Burden – Body Solvent Levels 

When used in liquid from, various petroleum-derived chemicals are called solvents. When they evaporate, they are called “volatile organic compounds” or VOC’s.  A study of children showed both school and home sources of body solvent levels in children. Sources include “air fresheners” or “deodorizers” which are pleasant smelling petroleum-based chemicals that enter the body. The results indicated that not only evaporating chemicals were significant sources, but that substances absorbed through the skin, such as in cosmetics, creams, etc. were likely also significant factors.  These solvents can go to the brain, nerves, and cell membranes, where they can persist for months or years. Environmental Health Perspectives March 2005

When you use these types of air fresheners, you expose yourself to many toxic chemicals, including but not limited to:

methoxychlor, which was intended to be a replacement for DDT, but has since been banned in 2003 as a pesticide based on its acute toxicity, bioaccumulation, and endocrine disruption activity.  It is a pesticide that 9ay accumulates in fat cells and which the chronic effects include :  have estrogenic effect as shown in adult and developing animals before and after birth , liver cell degeneration and kidney damage, Central nervous depression, death is usually due to respiratory failure from paralysis in the brain, In an acute oral study in animals, changes in the liver were reported.  Dermal contact with methoxychlor is slightly irritating to skin.  Chronic oral exposure of animals to methoxychlor has resulted in effects to the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.  Reproductive and developmental effects are the primary concern from methoxychlor exposure.  Animal studies have reported developmental and reproductive effects, such as abortions, reduced fertility, reduced litter size, and skeletal effects from oral exposure to methoxychlor.;

formaldehyde which is a sensitizing agent that can cause an immune system response upon initial exposure. It is also a cancer hazard. Acute long-term exposure to low levels in the air or on the skin can cause asthma-like respiratory problems and skin irritation such as dermatitis and itching. Concentrations of 100 ppm are immediately dangerous to life and health ,

benzene is among the 20 most widely used chemicals in the United States (American Cancer Society), causes cells not to work correctly , is known to cause cancer, based on evidence from studies in both people and laboratory animals. The EPA has classified benzene as a Group A, known human carcinogen.  It also may cause acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) in children and to chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and other blood-related cancers, such as multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, cause chromosome changes in bone marrow cells, may affect the central nervous system, which can lead to drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, tremors, confusion, and/or unconsciousness, 8 adverse effects on the developing fetus have been observed in animal tests.

Long-term exposure to benzene primarily harms the bone marrow, the soft, inner parts of bones where new blood cells are made. This may result in Anemia (a low red blood cell count), which can cause a person to feel weak and tired, a low white blood cell count, which can lower the body’s ability to fight infections and may even be life-threatening, a low blood platelet count, which can lead to excessive bleeding, and causes both structural and numerical chromosomal aberrations in humans, There is also some evidence that long-term exposure to benzene may harm reproductive organs. Some women who have breathed high levels of benzene for many months have had irregular menstrual periods and ovary shrinkage,.  Read full gov. article here and here.

styrene which are known or suspected carcinogens, symptoms may involve the central nervous system and include complaints of headache, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, malaise, difficulty in concentrating, and a feeling of intoxication. The National Toxicological Program’s (NTP) 12th Report on Carcinogens classifies it as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies styrene as a potential human carcinogen. It is also known as vinylbenzene, ethenylbenzene, cinnamene, or phenylethylene. OSHA site info , Chronic (long-term) exposure to styrene in humans results in effects on the central nervous system (CNS), such as headache, fatigue, weakness, and depression, CSN dysfunction, hearing loss, and peripheral neuropathy, Several epidemiologic studies suggest there may be an association between styrene exposure and an increased risk of leukemia and lymphoma,

toluene is a solvent, is what kids are sniffing when they “glue sniff, and is a liver and kidney irritant. Due to genetic polymorphisms, some people may be more sensitive to the effects of inhaled solvents than others.  The central nervous system (CNS) is the primary target organ for toluene toxicity in both humans and animals for acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) exposures. CNS dysfunction and narcosis have been frequently observed in humans acutely exposed to toluene by inhalation; symptoms include fatigue, sleepiness, headaches, and nausea.  CNS depression has been reported to occur in chronic abusers exposed to high levels of toluene.

Chronic inhalation exposure of humans to toluene also causes irritation of the upper respiratory tract and eyes, sore throat, dizziness, and headache.  Human studies have reported developmental effects, such as CNS dysfunction, attention deficits, and minor craniofacial and limb anomalies, in the children of pregnant women exposed to toluene or mixed solvents by inhalation. Reproductive effects, including an association between exposure to toluene and an increased incidence of spontaneous abortions, have also been noted. EPA Toluene site.

Additional symptoms include Blurred vision, Burning pain, Hearing loss, Gastrointestinal Abdominal pain – severe, Bloody stools, Loss of appetite, Nausea, Vomiting – possibly blood, Heart and blood vessels, Irregular heartbeat, Low blood pressure, Kidney damage, Breathing difficulty, Chest pain, Cough, Rapid, shallow breathing, Convulsions, Dizziness, Drowsiness, Exaggerated feeling of well-being (euphoria), Headache, Memory loss, Nervousness, Staggering, Tremors, Unconsciousness, Dry, cracked skin, Pale skin. low sperm counts and low testosterone levels in adult males.  Full article here

Air fresheners available in the USA may also contain phthalates.

Phthalates, a family of chemicals known as estrogen mimicers, can cause hormonal abnormalities, hormonal cancers and birth defects. The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, put phthalates on a list of chemicals that “may present a risk” to the environment or human health. That’s because they disrupt hormone activity and some preliminary studies show that they may be causing a slow and steady demasculinizing of men. If it is shown definitively that phthalates are dangerous, also causing liver cancer, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s 2005 National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, it. is listed as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” in the Twelfth Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program.

Children may take in higher than average amounts because many chew toys are made of highly phthalate-softened vinyl (for example, teethers).  Indeed, the highest levels of DINP released from pacifiers and toys exceeded the acceptable daily intake level in studies, conducted in the Netherlands and Denmark, that simulated children’s mouthing behavior.

High doses of diethyl phthalate (DEP) given to female rats have been shown to cause the growth of an extra rib in their offspring. Additionally, female animals exposed throughout their lives experience an elevated number of stillbirths.. 60 minutes CBS story, .  a study by Dr. Shanna Swan, an epidemiologist at the University of Rochester Medical School. Dr. Swan compared the levels of phthalates in a group of pregnant women with the health of the baby boys they gave birth to. Swan told “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl she found that the higher the level of phthalates in the mother’s urine during pregnancy, the greater the problems occurred in young boys.

Asked what she found in babies, Swan said,

“We found that the baby boys were in several subtle ways less completely masculine.”

Dr. Howard Snyder, a pediatric urologist at Children’s Hospital inPhiladelphia, says Swan’s findings line up with what he’s seeing in newborn baby boys: an alarming increase in deformed sex organs.

It’s very upsetting that researchers have also discovered that some air fresheners labeled as natural or non-scented contained phthalates.

What’s more, the chemicals from air fresheners can react with other substances to become even more dangerous. Terpenes such as, linalool and linalyl acetate released by some air fresheners react with ozone and form formaldeyde for which there is strong evidence that it can cause cancer in humans.

Let’s take a quick look at a few of the additional toxic chemicals in air fresheners and plug-ins:

Benzyl Alcohol — “…upper respiratory tract , irritation, headaches, nausea and vomiting, a depressed central nervous system and a drop in blood pressure.”

Camphor— “On EPA’s Hazardous Waste List… readily absorbed  through the body tissues…irritation of eyes, skin, nose, and throat…dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching

muscles and convulsions…avoid inhalation of vapors.”

Dichlorobenzene– “extremely toxic, a central nervous system depressant, kidney and liver poison.  One of the chlorinated hydrocarbons that is long-lasting in the body.

The bottom line….. be very very careful about what you use as an air freshener.  I personally only use Young Living Essential Oils.  I use them diluted with water in a trigger sprayer, put a few drops on cotton balls placed throughout the house, and diffuse the oils in my diffuser.  I can change out scents in a matter of minutes, and at least I know I’m not exposing myself to the laundry list of chemicals in other air fresheners.  An additional bonus is that I have over 400 SAFE scents to choose from!  I truely have a natural organic green air freshener!


~~~ Get the wisdom to know the truth ~~~

~~~ Live chemical free ~~~


Part 3 will discuss different ways & different fragrances to use as alternatives.

Governmental Chemical Reporting Agencies for you to keep handy and reference:

Centers for Disease Control:

Extension Toxicology Network:


American Association of  Poison Control Centers:

National Toxicology chemical PDF’s:


EPA Air Toxics Site:

Tammy Baile, Young Living Essential Oil Distributor, New JerseyTammy Baile Young Living Essential Oils Distributor # 1156558 I'm looking forward to helping you get "on with living" in a happy, healthy, chemical and pain-free way as I, my family and our pets have. Contact Tammy Order essential oils and wellness products here!

About Tammy Baile

For the first time in years I awake refreshed and ready to start the day. I no longer awake feeling like I've already run the Boston Marathon and dreading getting out of bed,  hobbling to the coffee pot.  Make no mistake, I don't run to the coffee pot, but now I can walk upright, without pain or with minimal managable pain, instead of walking hunched over holding onto the walls to get me there.  I'm currently using many different Young Living Essential Oils for aromatherapy as well as a holistic organic alternative treatments. My personal history has been grounded in medicine for the last 29 years, since the age of 20.  Before I became disabled with Systemic Lupus (SLE), I was a nurse, paramedic & EMT.  After a severe cervical spine issue resulting in a spinal fusion with a full Titanium shoulder,  I took my vast wealth of knowledge in medicine,  became a Medical Paralegal, where I worked until my Systemic Lupus became so severe that I am now permanently disabled for the last 11 years.  I live at the beautiful Jersey Shore,  as a single mom of a wonderful supportive 12 year old daughter. The Thieves products have also been a godsend for me.  I love using a "green" cleaner   that actually works!  We use the Thieves household cleaner for every cleaning job in our house now including mold, and the Thieves waterless hand sanatizer is with me at all times.  I have used the Thieves foaming hand soap and Thieves Essential Oil  to clean and subsequently heal severe cuts, lacerations and puncture wounds in our horse that everyone told me would require a vet visit, stitches & antibiotics.  No stitches or antibiotics were needed for our horse.  I've also successfully managed the horses hoof Thrush with Thieves foaming hand soap.  The Thrush was completely gone after just one application. I hope my articles, knowledge, experiences, and tips provide a wealth of information for you and your family on your wellness path. Contact me if you have questions or need assistance ordering. Order Here!

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