While it may be tempting to mask stale odors with perfume, especially if Mom can’t be dissuaded from dropping by, it’s healthier to open a window rather than spray a so-called air freshener.
Why? Strong or cloying fragrances, whether natural or synthetic, are common triggers for allergic and asthmatic reactions. In addition, most conventional air fresheners use synthetic fragrances, which contain phthalates, plasticizing chemicals that have been linked to cancers and hormone disruption in animal studies as well as genital abnormalities in a few small studies of boy babies in 2005. No reason to panic, as scientists say they can’t draw conclusions until more research is done–but in cases where you can easily and painlessly avoid phthalates, why not do so?
Look on labels. If you see the word "fragrance," with no specific ingredients listed, it’s likelier than not that phthalates are in the mix. That’s because the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t make manufacturers disclose fragrance components, which are considered trade secrets. But manufacturers who use natural plant essential oils readily list these ingredients–and these are the products you should pick.
Try Mate Mist Air Fresh spray with organic orange, grapefruit, lemon or lime ($11.99) at www.grassrootsstore.com
Or there’s Zum Mist Room Spray ($9.95) or Ecco-Bella Natural Air Fresh ($7.95), with essences of summer fruit, both at www.greenfeet.com