Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
Lourdes Salvador volunteers as a writer and social advocate for the recognition of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). She was a passionate advocate for the homeless and worked with her local governor to provide services to the homeless through a new approach she created to end homelessness. That passion soon turned to advocacy and activism for people with MCS and the medical professionals who serve them. She co-founded MCS Awareness in 2005 and went on to found MCS America in 2006. She serves as a partner for Environmental Education Week, a partner for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), and a supporter for the American Cancer Society: Campaign for Smokefree Air.
Air Fresheners Pollute Indoor Air: Scientific Study
by Lourdes Salvador
There are many indoor air quality factors that affect the health and comfort of occupants, including temperature, air circulation, radon, molds, personal fragrances, pesticides, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, asbestos, ozone, smoke, cleaning chemicals, chemicals contained in furnishings, and other volatile organic compounds. Volatile organic compounds come from paints, solvents, pesticides, air fresheners, aerosol sprays, and adhesives, among others. Particulate pollution comes from dust, pollen, fireplaces, wood stoves, kerosene/gas heaters.
Indoor air quality is a growing concern with the rise of sick building syndrome. Poor indoor air quality may lead to higher levels of pollutants which may cause allergies, respiratory tract infections, eye and skin irritation, headaches, congestion, coughing, sneezing, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, loss of coordination, and may lead to other disorders including rhinitis, asthma, multiple chemical sensitivity, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, depression and damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system,
Assessing indoor air quality is often difficult and requires quantitative comparisons of emissions from all sources in the building.
Researchers in Japan showed that the use of these household products, such as air fresheners, significantly influences indoor air quality and thus, health.
Indoor air quality declines when the use of air fresheners is employed. Air fresheners are made up of many toxic chemicals, including phthalates. Small children and pets are at increased risk of health effects.
Since air fresheners merely add a fragrance to cover up odor, they are not required to keep a clean home Odor can generally be removed by cleaning without the need for adding fragrance. Consumers should beware of products claiming to be "fragrance free" or "fresh scent" as they may contain masking fragrances or fragrances designed to smell like fresh air.
Baking soda absorbs odors and is a great cleanser that can be used like any powdered cleanser. Vinegar is a natural deodorizer. There are many other single ingredient cleansers that are inexpensive and better for both occupant health and the environment. Natural cleansers combines with overall reduction of indoor volatile organic compounds and particulates can greatly improve indoor air quality and thus, health.
For more information on indoor air quality, see:
Epidemiology - North Carolina Public Health
The Environmental Protection Agency
The American Lung Association
Jinno H, Tanaka-Kagawa T, Obama T, Miyagawa M, Yoshikawa J, Komatsu K, Tokunaga H. Impact of air fresheners and deodorizers on the indoor total volatile organic compounds. Kokuritsu Iyakuhin Shokuhin Eisei Kenkyusho Hokoku. 2007;(125):72-8.