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How to Naturally Scent Your Home
Whether it’s the stuffiness of closed windows during inclement weather or the heat of summer driving you to use your air conditioner, your indoor air can get pretty stale and smelly. You’d prefer a home that smells pleasant and inviting. For many of us, a pleasantly scented home is difficult to achieve if you are living a toxin-free life – and it may even have consequences. What’s in that Bottle of Air Freshener? If you suffer from allergies, you know you need to avoid these choices to make your home smell nice. But is there a real danger to use scented products in our home? Cleaning products, air fresheners and fabric sprays that have scents can actually make the air more toxic. A study by NRDC has found the following items in air fresheners: • Phthalates, which are carcinogenic and can act as endocrine disruptors; • A VOC called 1,4 dichlorobenzene which can be harmful to the lungs; • Formaldehyde, which is listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a carcinogen. Scary stuff you don’t want around your children! Other unhealthy solutions people turn are fabric deodorizers, such as Febreze. EWG’s Healthy Cleaning Guide reviewed 40 such products. More than 50% of them scored a D or F, with only 3 products getting an “A” for safety. And most scented candles are no better. According to Keeper of the Home, in addition to artificial dyes and scents, candles can release harmful chemicals when burned, including lead (yes, lead!), benzene, toluene, and a whole host of toxins which can be carcinogenic or at the least, trigger allergic reactions You should also know that any candle that contains paraffin may release toxins, including “healthy” soy candles. How Naturally Scent Your Home, the Safe Way Now that you know what not to do, here are some steps you can take to safely and naturally scent your home at any time of year: 1. Get rid of stale air. • You can take some of the same steps as you would to prevent allergies: use a high quality air filter and carefully vent the air in your home by opening windows when you can. • Make sure your oven ventilation system is properly working or use fans if you are cooking something that leaves a heavy smell in the air, such as frying bacon. • Have the air ducts in your home professionally cleaned regularly to ensure that the air is flowing properly. • Use plants to keep your air fresh and full of pure oxygen. • Use beeswax candles to naturally detox the air. • Here are 7 more tips to detox your indoor air. 2. Eliminate unnaturally scented chemicals and toxins. • Throw out everything with a fragrance, including conventional air fresheners and paraffin candles, cleaning products that are scented or use strong chemicals like ammonia. Remember that you will be doing a favor for any guests you entertain who are allergic to these chemicals! • Use organic or homemade cleaning products and deep clean areas that are rarely touched, such as basements, attics or hard-to-reach spaces in living areas. Check out The Soft Landing’s Green Cleaning Guide to make safe choices. • Use HEPA filtered machines when vacuuming. • Check out these tips for how to remove odors from used electronics. 3. Scent your home with healthy, natural options. • Use essential oils in a diffuser. Essential oils are not only one of the safest ways to keep a home fragrant, you can choose oils that have a positive effect on your mood, like calming lavender – one of my daughter’s favorite! • Strategically place Himalayan salt lamps. According to Wellness Mama, these wonders clean the air, reduce allergies and can improve mood. They’re also pretty and unique bit of decor, too. I think my daughter would get a blast from having one in her bedroom! • Julie Blanner has some amazing tips for creating homemade potpourri so you can scent your home with dried produce. I love this idea because you can use seasonal produce and scents! Of course, you can also make sure your house regularly smells nice by cooking mild food on a daily basis – but that might be a challenge for busy moms! What techniques do you use to keep your home fresh and smelling nice without all the toxins?
Pet Sensory Offender #2: Intense Odors
A cat’s sense of smell is estimated to be about 14 times more sensitive than ours. But that’s nothing compared with a dog’s powerful sniffer, which is thought to be 1,000 to one million times more powerful than a human nose. So there are plenty of aromas that could easily turn a dog or cat's tummy or tempt their taste buds — but we wouldn't even notice them. Some potential sources of offensive (and often stressful) smells include cigarettes, carpet fresheners, cleaning agents and disinfectants, potpourri, hair spray and perfumes, scented litter and a host of air fresheners. So instead of masking an unpleasant odor, try to remove the source of the foul smell. I know that's easier said than done, but a tiny trace to us is like an elephant-sized funk to some animals. I’m so sensitive about this that I even train my staff not to wear perfumes or scented deodorants to avoid upsetting my pet patients. Seriously.
Fresh air and bamboo charcoal
Asian countries have been using bamboo charcoal for thousands of years to purify both air and water. It’s also used as medicine to remove poisons from the body, even today. This material is so porous, that just a single gram has a 600-square-feet surface area. Due to the incredibly porous nature of bamboo charcoal, people often call it a super natural material. Here are the 5 super powers you need to know. #1 – Air Purification As air flows through bamboo charcoal, the pores and cavities of the material trap odor molecules that cause unpleasant smells. You can think of it as a big sponge that sucks in and traps odor. While the effect isn’t instant, bamboo charcoal lasts more than 365 days and does not release harmful chemicals into the environment. Instead of using artificial scent to cover up unpleasant odor like common air fresheners do, it removes the odor itself. Bamboo charcoal is especially helpful for people with allergies and asthma, because it’s scent and allergen free. Being natural and non-toxic mean it’s also great with kids and pets. In addition to eliminating odor, bamboo charcoal will improve air quality by trapping air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, ammonia, and benzopyrene.
Air freshener has been really popular lately, especially when a lot of people are trying to look for ways to remove bad odor inside their house. Usually, air fresheners are only used for cars, especially on public utility vehicles, but they suddenly became popular for other areas. It is true that choosing an air freshener is very simple compared to other products, but it doesn’t mean that you can just buy anything you want. If you do not have any idea how to choose a home air freshener, you will surely have a hard time finding the best one. When searching for air fresheners, below are some of the top tips that you can follow if you don’t want to make a mistake. Properly Choose the Fragrances Well, we all know that air fresheners come with different flavors and fragrances and this is something that you need to consider carefully. Some people do not really like fruity flavors and there are some who wanted something that will simply cover the odor. Try to choose based on your preference, especially if you are using it at home or in your car because you will be the one who will smell the fragrance. You need to choose wisely because there is no reason to buy the air fresheners if you don’t like the smell. Versatility of the Car Air Freshener Try to find some air fresheners that can be placed or positioned on various places. It means that you can either hang them or stick them anywhere you want. This will definitely be a big help if you are trying to save money because you don’t have to buy multiple air fresheners for different settings. You can easily find some of the best car air fresheners on the market today that can be used on different settings. How Long Does your Air Freshener Lasts? Most of the products on the market nowadays only last for a couple of weeks so you need to pay attention to this. Try to find a good car air freshener that will definitely last for 60 days. This is the best possible air freshener that you can buy. You do not have to buy over and over again so you will surely save a lot of money in the long run.
Watch enough TV commercials, and you get the sense that Americans are obsessed with air freshener. Trigger-happy women routinely rush around the house armed with cans of the stuff, gleefully spraying running shoes, embarrassed dogs and cigar-smoke-laden furniture; whole families, it seems, are intoxicated by the fresh scent of Summer Breeze or Berry Burst. But just how "fresh" is air freshener? A study released last week by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) evaluated 14 air fresheners off the shelf of a local Walgreens and found that 12 contained variable amounts of substances called phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates), a group of chemicals that are used to dissolve and carry fragrances, soften plastics and also as sealants and adhesives. Phthalates are commonly found in a variety of products, including cosmetics, paints, nail polish and children's toys — and have long been at the center of a larger international controversy over their health effects. Studies involving rat and human subjects have suggested that high exposures to certain kinds of phthalates can cause cancer, developmental and sex-hormone abnormalities (including decreased testosterone and sperm levels and malformed sex organs) in infants, and can affect fertility. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has no regulations on the use of phthalates, does not require the labeling of phthalate content on products and does not consider the quantities to which people are exposed to be harmful. But other countries think otherwise. In 2004, the European Union banned two types of phthalates in cosmetics and also bans the chemical in children's toys, as do 14 other countries. The first state bill to ban phthalates in children's toys in the U.S. is currently sitting on California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk, and he is expected to sign it this week. Plug-in, spray or stand-alone liquid and gel air fresheners are used in nearly 75% of U.S. households, and the market has doubled since 2003 to $1.72 billion. The NRDC tested products, including those labeled "all-natural" or "unscented," and found a wide range of phthalate content, from zero parts per million (ppm) to 7,300 ppm. Many air fresheners contained a phthalate known as DEP and some also contained DBP, which are listed by the California EPA's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a developmental toxin and female and male reproductive toxin, respectively. According to the NRDC report, three Walgreens products — Walgreens Scented Bouquet Air Freshener, Walgreens Air Freshener Spray and Walgreens Solid Air Freshener — were among the top four highest in phthalate content (including Ozium Glycolized Air Sanitizer), and Walgreens pulled them from store shelves last Wednesday. The company will submit its house-branded products to an independent lab to confirm the NRDC's findings; one of Walgreens' manufacturers has already decided to make its product phthlate-free, according to Walgreens spokeswoman Carol Hively. The two air fresheners that the NRDC found virtually free of phthalates were Febreze Air Effects Air Refresher and Renuzit Subtle Effects. While the study looked at which air fresheners contain the chemicals and how much, it did not assess people's exposure to phthalates from these products — the size of the room, the distance from the air freshener and how long a person stays in the room are all factors that would affect potential toxicity. But like phthalates banned from U.K. beauty products, those in air fresheners can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. "We're not saying that there's any clear-cut evidence here for health effects," says Dr. Gina Solomon of the NRDC. "If consumers want to reduce overall exposure, avoid these products or pick ones with lower levels. We don't know what the cutoff is." Clearly, there is an active scientific debate about the results of the testing of phthalates. "It's still unresolved," says the NRDC's Solomon. In the meantime, for those who are concerned about phthalates in air fresheners, there are various ways to make the home smell better, au natural. Solomon keeps the house clean and opens the windows — and makes her husband take out the trash. Other common ways to eliminate odors are to keep fresh coffee grounds on the counter (a trick of many a flight attendant); toss baking soda at the bottom of the trash can; and grind up a slice of lemon in the garbage disposal. "Get at the root of the odor," says Solomon. "Fresh air will do wonders."
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