A daily squirt of air freshener or a few hours around a burning scented candle every day could be doing irreparable damage to your heart, according to a study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
"The strongest associations we found were observed with air-freshening sprays," says Amar J. Mehta, ScD, MPH, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health. He says that women who used spray air fresheners frequently and over a long period of time were the most likely to show reduced heart rate variability, which is often a sign of heart problems. The changes were seen in women who used them as little as one day a week.
Mehta thinks this might be because air freshener ingredients react with ozone—a common indoor air pollutant—and form other compounds that harm your heart. For instance, one common class of air freshener ingredients called terpenes, which give pine products their piney smell and citrus products their orange kick, have been found to react with ozone and form aldehydes—toxic pollutants linked to heart disease and diabetes. (All the more reason to get one of these 7 plants that purify indoor air.)
Given the number of simple nontoxic air fresheners you can make, synthetically scented products aren’t worth the risk. So swap that nasty can of aerosol spray and those plug-in air fresheners for these 5 natural alternatives:
(Find seasonal recipes, inspiring imagery, and gardening tips every day inside the Rodale’s Organic Life 2017 Calendar!)