Before you spray Febreze or plug in a Glade Plug-In, light a scented candle, or use some so-called air freshening wick, mist, aerosol, or other car or room deodorizer, think twice. You'll be shocked to learn their ingredients and the harmful effects they can cause. That "Cleansing Rain," "Summer Breeze," "Fresh Country," "Cool Morning Air" or "Berry Burst" might be having disastrous effects on your health or the health of your family, including children and unborn fetuses.
The Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC)-an international environmental organization-conducted a study called, "Clearing the Air: Hidden Hazards of Air Fresheners" in which they found 86% of air fresheners tested contained dangerous phthalates.
Phthalates are used as plastic softeners, anti-foaming agents in aerosols, in vinyl found in children's toys, automobiles, paints, pesticides, and in cosmetics and fragrances. According to the NRDC research, "Most phthalates are well known to interfere with production of the male hormone testosterone, and have been associated with reproductive abnormalities."
Numerous animal studies have shown exposure to phthalates decreases testosterone, causes malformations of the genitalia, and reduced sperm production. Human studies link phthalates to changes in hormones, poor semen quality, and changes in genital formation. Five phthalates, including one found in air fresheners are listed by the State of California as "known to cause birth defects or reproductive harm." Additionally, phthalates in air fresheners are associated with allergic symptoms and asthma, according to the NRDC.
Research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that the majority of the American population is routinely exposed to at least five different phthalates. Their research also shows that even if the exposures are small (they may not be!), there is a significant health threat due to the combination of phthalates acting as a higher dose.