One of the greatest health hazards with some air fresheners are phthalates, solvents that are part of the perfumes that make up many of the products. They industry has used advertising to promote having a home environment that is freshly scented but that in reality hide a hidden danger.
Effects of Phthalates
When the freshener is sprayed, phthalats are released into the air and can be breathed in by anyone in the vicinity. The Natural Resources Defense Council did an independent testing of several air fresheners and found these solvents present in 86 percent of the ones looked at. Phthalates have been known to cause problems with male hormone production and are suspected to be a cause of birth defects.
Skin and Breathing Irritation
Some air fresheners, if sprayed too much in a small area, can cause irritation when breathing. If someone has contact with the mist for an extended period, it can also cause irritation to the eyes, possible damage to eye tissue and conjunctivitis.
When using air fresheners, it is important to consider if you have young children in the home. Fresheners that can be plugged into the wall can cause hazards if a child tries to ingest it. Also, people who are sensitive to chemicals can have adverse reactions to the ingredients found in many fresheners.
When using air fresheners, they should be sprayed or placed in an area that is well-ventilated. Small, enclosed areas can allow for a concentration of the spray to build up, which can cause irritation to the eyes and breathing. If used properly, the potential for problems is low, but care should be taken in choosing and making use of commercial fresheners.