air fresheners safe – or are air fresheners toxic

air fresheners safe – or are air fresheners toxic

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One question we get asked by our friends all the time is, what’s an average day like for you? We really are kind of terrible at answering that question. Mainly because we’re not sure there are average days. One day we might be gutting out a house as part of a renovation, while the next we’re sitting behind a computer designing a space, or out with a client choosing slabs for their kitchen. Or even touring a quarry. And the following day, we might be in a lab doing science experiments as we ponder the question, are air fresheners safe?

Yeah we know we have a ‘weird’ job. But we love it.

We said all that to say, we love what we do – from working with clients, and brands, and even sharing a few self-demeaning stories with you, {because keeping it real}. But let’s make it clear: you make it all possible. And for that, we are forever grateful. Without our amazing readers, I guess what we do would all be kinda pointless. As much as we would probably keep an online diary just for kicks because we do love writing, our true hope is that we can bring laughter into your home, inspire you when we get a chance, and even share relevant topics that we all wonder about.

Are air fresheners safe?

air fresheners safe

Today is one of those days: a relevant topic day. One of those days where we get a little more serious. Not that the story of our first meeting and me {Jamin} in a dress wasn’t serious, because, mawwaige.

Last year we had the privilege of being invited to the first Febreze Safety Immersion at P&G headquarters in Cincinnati.

The major discussion centered around “are air fresheners safe?” I think we’re all very interested in knowing more about what goes into our homes. What’s being used around our families is an important topic to us. What makes our own homes safe, and doing our best a-la due diligence to make well-informed, smart decisions for our children. We thought you’d enjoy hearing more about what we learned, here.

We had Three main takeaways from our time there:

1) Why didn’t my high school teacher make Science and Chemistry this fun?

2) Who knew there was so much science behind air fresheners

3) Context is everything when asking the safety question. Of course, isn’t context always really king?

Are air fresheners safe: It’s all about context.

In a world where the pendulum is swinging back in the other direction, it can feel like we’re surrounded by misinformation, especially when it’s grounded in fear. So let’s start with context, and this example: Some organizations make the statement that preservatives are bad for you. In fact, specifically E236 and E296. E236 is even banned in some countries. And there’s a reason, because it can be bad for you.

Now let’s check out the chemical makeup of a kiwi.

air fresheners safe

Say what.

We were really bummed to know we had to throw out all the Kiwi we just bought.

But then we learned about something called “Safety Science.” This is totally different than most of the science that we often hear about from groups which are focused on what to avoid, instead of focusing on the safe range of things. This is what safety science is all about.

Take for example, water. Too little water, and you encounter dehydration or draught, and frankly, bad skin. Too much, and you have floods or water toxicity, which can kill you. But just the right amount, and life will flourish.

It’s this basic understanding of water that can help us put context around the question, Are air fresheners safe?

Because no one can argue that there might be things in them that could be harmful to you, but no one can argue that the same isn’t true for kiwi, water, and so many other things found naturally in our environment. So if you take a step back, to only ask what should I avoid? This will leave you, well, avoiding everything.

This is why asking the safe range question is a much more responsible, honest and a helpful question.

Will the preservatives in kiwi ever kill you? Most likely not.

It’s this same safe range question that helps us answer the question, are air fresheners safe?

Are air fresheners safe: Natural v. man-made ingredients.

The first objection is, “but natural ingredients are safer than man-made ingredients”. And while it seems the prevailing public opinion is that of course natural is better, science and truth don’t seem to agree. air fresheners safe

Simply put, whether it is man-made or natural cannot speak to the safety of a substance.

Another thing to note, is that natural chemicals are never the same, year in and year out, but are affected by the environment around them. While man-made chemicals can be controlled in a lab and yield the same makeup year in, and year out. Thus giving you more control over the chemicals going into or being used around the body.

Are air fresheners safe: The safe range.

While asking the question what to avoid and looking at man-made vs. natural substances, neither will give you an understanding of the safe range of substances. It can leave you with an incomplete understanding into the question “is it safe?”

Safety science is focused on finding and understanding that safe limit.

Its objective is asking what is the limit of any given substance, whether it be water, or a preservative that falls within the safe range.

air fresheners safe

Are air fresheners safe: Two parts of the story.

If we focus in on something too much, it’s easy for it to consume us, blind us, and not allow us to make a proper choice.

air fresheners safe

If we focus in on the center of the flower or the pollen, we could naturally be lead to assume that this is a dangerous thing. This is something that should be destroyed or completely avoided, because it is harmful. But in context, we think differently. We understand more. Flowers are to be appreciated, all while knowing they contain something that could be classified as harmful, by its genetic makeup.

Are air fresheners safe: Parabens.

There is a lot of talk about parabens. It’s a hot topic right now. They’re used as a preservative in a lot of common products and foods, and have been identified as harmful by several health advocates. “Paraben-free” is the new catch phrase. There are articles upon articles about why one should avoid them, and how to avoid them.

air fresheners safe

When we take that step back, once again in context, we can understand more about them. Where they are found and how they can be helpful. That perhaps there’s more to the story than we’re sometimes lead to believe.

Are air fresheners safe: Our body as a sieve.

What safety science understands is that your body is like a sieve, taking what it needs out of a substance and letting the things it doesn’t need, pass through. Even from that kiwi. Your body does this on a daily basis and in fact, it’s designed to interact with nature.

If we understand things in context and understand that our body is much like a sieve allowing things to pass through and not build up, then we begin to really be able to answer questions about what’s harmful and what’s safe within certain ranges. Just like we’re able to do with time spent in the sun on the beach, or how much food we eat at Thanksgiving before pushing back from the table.

We also understand that we can drink 1,000 gallons of water and not die from water toxicity, so long as we do it over a range of time and allow our body to take what it needs and filter out the rest. Thanks, kidneys.

air fresheners safe

Are air fresheners safe: In context.

While we are unable to speak to all air fresheners on the market and while we aren’t scientists wearing lab coats, we did find some facts about Febreze rather interesting in our discussion on the safety of air fresheners, from the consumer and family perspective.

• For a particle to make it into your deep lungs it needs to be about 10 microns. For it to get into your trachea and primary bronchi it needs to be about 10-30 microns. And to get into your upper respiratory system, it needs to be about 30-100 microns. Febreze sits in the 85-120 micron range. Meaning it does not reach the deep lungs and is quickly cleared from the body.

air fresheners safe

• While WHO, EU, FDA, and Canada all set a safety limit for chemicals, Febreze actually sets their own product limit, which as seen above is 100-1000 below the major world organizations.

• They use nitrogen as their propellant, which is a safer propellant and already found naturally in your home. It also allows them to put more product into the canister and makes it completely non-flammable.

• All ingredients are tested extensively to find their safe range and monitored closely thereafter. The goal is not to be quick to market, but to put out a product that is safe for everyone.

At the end of the day, you have to decide what’s right for you. But there’s a lot of unnecessary fear out there, and it helps to see it all in context.

air fresheners safe

Are air fresheners safe: why should I use them?

Assuming you’ve evaluated the issue of are air fresheners safe, and you’ve determined they are, there is still the question of why should I use them?

We had the pleasure of meeting a renowned scientist who actually holds the Guinness Book World Record for creating the world’s worst malodor for the government. {Like we said, our job is interesting.} She educated us in all things smell, and one of the most interesting facts we learned is that people who live in a pleasant smelling environment have a better quality of mental health. We also learned that people perform tasks better when they’re not stressed out or distracted by the state of their home, and are more efficient at what they are doing when odors around them are contained.

The home really is about all the senses, and the smell is oh so important.

Are air fresheners safe: Your smelly home.

I know you’re clean, your home doesn’t smell.

But it does. ;}

Every home has a signature smell. You just get accustomed to it, and Febreze calls  it being nose blind. Have you ever been away on vacation only to come home and notice a smell in your home? “It must be because the air has been off” or “it rained” or “it was closed up” or a number of other reasons. The truth is, it smells because your olfactory glands have had a chance to reset themselves, and they’re smelling it again for the first time.

Smells also stay in your home, even after they fall out of the air. When little Johnny plops down on the sofa, he releases those odors. On a hot a humid day, those odors are brought back to life, which is why garbage always smells worse in the summer.

air fresheners safe

Are air fresheners safe: Febreze is different.

Most air fresheners only mask the smell. In other words, they’re attempting to create a stronger smell, that overrides the stinky smell.

This was the case for that world’s worst odor we were talking about – they had a terrible odor, then added a fragrance to it which sent everyone running.

That’s what separates Febreze. They use a science that neutralizes the odor, literally by locking it up in another molecule like it’s in odor jail. It changes the malodor’s pH by attaching to it. Once this happens, the molecule becomes too heavy to stay airborne and falls out of the air. {You should always Febreze your home before you clean. That way you are truly getting a clean home. – Something else that we learned – we clean the toilets and countertops, but sometimes we forget to clean the air.}

air fresheners safe

Are air fresheners safe: Science experiments.

We’re arriving at that age of smelly teenagers who also inhabit the same area with two rodents of unusual size. {See: Our Princess Bride Halloween costumes, and two 70 lb dogs}. So we were game to give any experiment a try that claims to lock up and remove odors.

When the friendly P&G scientist broke out a tuna can claiming that Febreze could neutralize its smell, we were all ears. This is something you can try at home, as well! Our kids loved it.

We watched as he poured some of the water from the can into two cups, and offered to let us smell it: It was as expected, just like tuna.

First, he sprayed one cup with another brand’s air freshener, and it smelled pretty awful. Like you were trying to mask a bad smell with a fragrance.

Then, he sprayed some Febreze in the second cup and let us smell it. To say I was a little astonished not to smell anything might be an understatement. The tuna smell was gone, not masked. Just completely non-existent. Trapped, locked up, and gone.

They performed several other smell tests and each time the same result, it wasn’t a masking of the smell with a stronger smell, but an elimination of the malodor. The Febreze odor converters had done their job, just like the chemists designed them to. And I’m pretty sure if my high school teacher would have shown us cool stuff like this I would have paid more attention: Hello, stinky locker room.

Cue the fun science with kids, and one you can easily do at home. You can learn more about this odor locking science on the Febreze website.

Are air fresheners safe: The verdict.

It seems there is a lot of misinformation in our world today and people like to use scary words to drive others to fear, and essentially, to their way of thinking. This seems true across the board in our day and age when products are trying to separate themselves from others. The easiest way is claiming another is bad or harmful. It also seems that beliefs can easily be formed because someone writes something here on the interwebs and then it’s repeated to friends, all without context or science to back it up. As parents reading up on all the topics, we know there’s just a lot of fear out there.

So are air fresheners safe?  We think so, but we’ll also leave if to you to decide. But it’s good to do so within context and with an understanding of safety science. To evaluate it as you would anything else in life, and to remember if someone is vehemently trying to convince you of their point without considering other views, you should always be a little leery, no matter what the topic.

All things in context.

All things in moderation.

All things in view of seeking truth. Not forcing others to agree.

Are air fresheners safe: our take

We’re not scientists, but we do look good in safety glasses.

And we are more convinced than ever that Febreze is right for our family. With our rambunctious  pups three kids and love for all the foods our house has it’s fair share of malodor. We are a shoes off in the house family because we love cleanliness and a clean air is simply a major part of keeping our home clean. And while there are a lot of ways to keep your home smelling nice there really only seems to be one real safe option to keep it clean.

us and the fabulous a slob comes clean

Are air fresheners safe: something to think about

We hope we’ve given you something to think about today, not only with the question, are air fresheners safe, but with how to evaluate everything in life. A little context goes a long way.

If you’re interested in learning more about Febreze product safety you can read all types of info on their website.

air fresheners safe

We hope you check it out.

As always, let us know if you have any questions. Have an inspired day!

:: This post was brought to you in partnership with our friends from Febreze. All opinions are 100% ours. Please read our full disclosure pertaining to partnerships and construction here ::


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