Better living through nature
With a cat, a sink full of dishes and teeming garbage, my house is in constant need of air freshening. My stand-by method of air freshening was burning incense, but I quickly run out of incense to burn. As a resutl, I decided to switch to a plug-in air freshener. Although I’ve missed the relaxing waft of incense smoke, I haven’t missed dusty ashes covering my book shelf. The absence of visible smoke, however, does not mean that my air is clean. The invisible chemicals ejected into the air from my plug-in air freshener may be just as harmful as the smoke was, if not more.
Photo by CM Sims/Courtesy Flickr
It turns out that some automatic air fresheners emit chemicals such as phthalates. According to a 2007 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, these chemicals can disrupt hormone levels and lead to reproductive abnormalities.
I don’t think I’ll revert back to incense with gusto because a recent University of Minnesota study indicates that excessive usage can contribute to respiratory tract cancers.
Instead, my new favorite freshening friend has become a potted chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemums, as well as other indoor plants, offer a number of health and freshening benefits. Specifically, they can neutralize airborne chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide. In a clean air study, done jointly by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, houseplants were proven to effectively remove up to 87 percent of air borne pollutants within 24 hours.
Another alternative to mainstream air fresheners are pure essential oils. These oils can be used with diffusers or nebulizers found at your nearest health food store or online.
While I will give household plants and essential oil diffusers a try, I can’t completely give up incense; it is just too much a part of my cleaning routine.
How about you? Have you found any natural air fresheners that work great at your place? Leave a comment and let me know!