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Air freshener study raises concerns

May 27, 2004

Air freshener study raises concerns

Some air fresheners inside homes may possibly be damaging to health, a New Zealand eco researcher said today.

Malcolm Rands, founder of ecostore, has researched the issue, and says some air fresheners are potentially harmful and smog can form inside homes, according to a preliminary US study.

``Researchers at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) say the reactions of air-fresheners can generate formaldehyde, classed as a probable carcinogen, and related compounds that many experts believe are responsible for respiratory problems,’’ Mr Rands said.

``The EPA researchers studied reactions between ozone gas and fragrance molecules which are emitted by air-fresheners that plug into electrical outlets.’’

``An alternative is a new family of odour destroyers that don’t work on masking the smells but instead quickly biodegrade the microscopic smell particles in the air.

``They take away the smell. We have these odour destroyers at our Ponsonby headquarters. The other options instead of air fresheners are to open windows and let in fresh air.’’

The odour destroyers are based on Food and Drug Administration approved substances made up of fatty acids and alcohol. The finished product combined with the smell molecules and quickly biodegrade.

Mr Rands said if people were concerned about indoor air, they should not introduce any extra chemical sources to their homes. The EPA study on plug-in air fresheners was only preliminary because it was based on work in a room-sized test chamber rather than a house, he said.

It appeared from the initial study findings that 'freshening' air may not be a good way to deal with air pollution, he said.

Similar particles are belched out by vehicle exhausts and are known to cause respiratory problems, the report said.

Meanwhile, the May 22 issue of New Scientist said particulate pollution had been shown in a Canadian university study to cause irreversible genetic mutations in mice, raising concerns about its effect on people.


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