air fresheners

  1. Plastics chemical in diabetes link

    I've warned you plenty about the risks of phthalate exposure for kids: These hormone-like chemicals used in plastics, cosmetics, scented candles, and more cause everything from bad behavior to developmental problems.

    And if you have a boy but wish "he" was a "she," just light the candles and let him inhale -- because phthalates mimic estrogen in the body. It's one of the main reasons boys are growing up to be sissies, complete with their own set of breasts.

    But forget the kids, because today I want to talk about how these chemicals can ruin YOU, starting with a dramatic boost in your risk of diabetes.

    I'm sure most people don't need much help in that department, thanks to the one-two punch of the modern diet and sedentary lifestyle.

    But if you're teetering on the brink of disease, phthalates can push you right over the edge -- because a new study on 1,000 senior Swedish women finds that high blood levels of these chemicals will DOUBLE your risk.

    This isn't exactly a stunner since phthalates have been linked in studies to insulin resistance, high blood glucose, weight gain, increased abdominal fat, and all the other usual suspects that work in cahoots with diabetes.

    But it's one thing to know all that. It's quite another to actually do something about it, because avoiding phthalates is practically a full-time job.

    Most personal items with fragrance of any kind contain them, including candles and air fresheners. They're also in shower curtains, vinyl flooring, upholstery, sealants, inks, and more.

    Phthalate fumes are even responsible for the so-called "new car smell."

    Like I said, it's not easy -- but do the best you can here for yourself and the rest of your family. Everyone's health is on the line.

  2. Popular air fresheners may have deadly scents

    The next time you come across a kitchen that smells "lemony fresh," or get a whiff of a cool mountain glen in your t-shirt, don't breathe too deeply.

    According to researchers from the University of Washington, air fresheners and fragranced laundry products often emit literally dozens of chemicals - some of which are considered toxic by federal law.

    And the worst part is that none of the potentially hazardous chemicals that are thrown off by these "fresh-smelling" products are even listed on the label of ingredients. University of Washington researcher Ann C. Steinemann, PhD, said, "I didn't find a brand that didn't emit at least one toxic chemical."

    As shocking as this may seem, there's a part of me that's not the least bit surprised. After all, I'm a bright guy and I realize that laundry detergents and air fresheners that smell like a cleansing summer rain storm aren't made from fresh-picked mountain flowers after a sun shower. There are chemicals - toxic and potentially deadly ones - that are replicating these odors. Of course the manufacturers of these products are already in full cornered-animal mode. They're proclaiming that the products are safe when "used as directed," and that the chemicals in question are present only in amounts not known to cause health issues.

    But you've got to wonder, don't you? Steinemann, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and public affairs at the University of Washington, says her idea for the revealing study was born of the fact that she had for years been told by many people that household cleaners and air fresheners caused them to have dizzy spells, or had spurred bouts of headache, asthma, shortness of breath - even seizures.

    Steinemann's study closely examined six popular consumer produces: liquid spray air fresheners, plug-in air fresheners, fabric softeners, laundry detergents, dryer sheets, and the kinds of solid disc deodorizers used in airliner toilets. Steinemann found that these six products emitted a staggering 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

    But to me, the most disheartening discovery of Steinemann's study came when she turned to federal law to find out what laws were on the books to protect consumers from this kind of thing. As it turns out, there's no law that requires disclosure of all chemicals in fragrances.

    It's an outrage to say the least. Steve Gilbert, a toxicologist not associated with the study, put it very succinctly: "At the very minimum, we should have a right to know what's in these products."

    Your best bet is to stop using store-bought air fresheners altogether. Try the real thing instead - cut open a lemon or orange, gather some mint leaves, or just open a box of baking soda.

  3. Popular air fresheners may have deadly scents

    According to researchers from the University of Washington, air fresheners and fragranced laundry products often emit literally dozens of chemicals - some of which are considered toxic by federal law.

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