This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Today’s market is flooded with air fresheners, scented candles and other items to mask odors and make our homes smell delightful. But are these products safe?
Research published in Environmental Health Perspectives finds that one squirt per day of an air freshener or several hours around a lit scented candle every day might be harming the heart irreparably. What’s more is that even those who only used an air freshener once a week displayed adverse heart effects.
The Swiss research involved 581 adults over the age of 50. Participants were questioned regarding their use of air fresheners, scented household products and cleaning products, and afterwards the electrical activity of their hearts were monitored for 24 hours to assess heart rate variability, an indication of cardiovascular health. The most disturbing discovery was linked with air fresheners, finding that women who used them the most frequently had the highest likelihood of having hearts that failed to respond quickly to different demands, such as stress.
Author Amar J. Mehta is uncertain of the reason for this effect but postulates that ingredients in air fresheners react with ozone, a typical indoor air pollutant, to form chemicals that damage the heart. Terpenes, compounds present in a common type of citrus and pine scented products react with ozone in the home to form aldehydes, toxic substances associated with heart disease and diabetes.
4 Safer Natural Alternatives
Ditch the air fresheners and candles in favor of these natural alternatives that are effective and smell better than cloying artificial products.
#1: Simmer a bowl of potpourri in a pot on the stove using spices, flavorings and other common ingredients from your kitchen. Include cinnamon, cloves and allspice, along with vanilla extract and the peel from an orange or lemon.
#2: Beeswax candles clear the air rather than pollute it. Additionally, they are available in scents derived from essential oils.
#3: Unglazed clay bottle diffusers permit you to place a few drops of an essential oil inside, which slowly wafts out into the air. Try a refreshing scent like lavender.
#4: Some common houseplants are natural air purifiers.