As they say, we've come a long way. But, that begs the question of whether the journey has actually taken us to a better place. Are we better off than our ancestors who relied on simple things like open windows to freshen the air? Is infusing our air with a Hawaiian ocean breeze scent from a wall socket really the way to go?
Researchers say no.
A new study from the University of Washington confirms what common sense should have told us long ago. All the scented laundry products and air fresheners are hazardous to our health. Since they can't capture the actual Hawaiian ocean breeze, they do the next "best" thing: they fake it with chemicals. Toxic chemicals.
The research team analyzed six laundry and air freshener products they picked up at the local grocer. They selected the best selling product in each category, then headed back to the lab. Each product was opened and left in an isolated area at room temperature. They then collected air samples and tested them for what are known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs are evaporated as small molecules from the surface of the products.
"Nearly 100 volatile organic compounds were emitted from these six products, and none were listed on any product label," said Anne Steinemann, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and public affairs. "Plus, five of the six products emitted one or more carcinogenic 'hazardous air pollutants,' which are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to have no safe exposure level."
Sometimes the old ways really are the best ways.