Healthy Green Design: Naturally Scent Your Home

| 11/30/2010 12:12:47 PM

Stephanie Nickolson headshotStephanie Nickolson has designed residential, commercial and eco-conscious environments for more than 24 years. Her firm, Stephanie Nickolson Design, promotes the use of sustainable, non-toxic,  recyclable and environmentally-friendly products and services. The firm works largely with clients who have allergies, chemical sensitivies or who have children with special needs. 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if everywhere we went, we breathed in fresh air and it smelled wonderful? Unless you suffer from anosmia, the loss of smell, your environment is going to include aromas, wherever you may be. Our memory is very much tied to our sense of smell—and includes scents both positive and the not-so-wanting-to-be-memorable. Unfortunately, we may have no choice but to get a whiff of unpleasant things at times.

smelling a rose 
Scent is tied to memory. Make good memories by filling your home with scents from natural air fresheners. Photo By Loic Twistiti/Courtesy Flickr. 

The word ozone originates from the Greek word ozein, which means to smell. Most of those commercial air fresheners that are made to conveniently plug into wall outlets or scent the air with a quick spritz of an aerosol spray are causing us health problems in the not-so-long run. These products can irritate the lungs, trigger an allergic reaction or even cause an asthma attack. The ingredient camphor can cause damage to the nervous system and parachlorobenzene may be linked to cancer. (Typically, I avoid anything that ends with -benzene; it’s just easier to remember.) Those “fresh scents” are causing you to inhale harmful chemicals, including ammonia, chlorine bleach, phosphates and phthalates. In 2007, the Natural Resources Defense Council took fourteen of the leading commercial air fresheners on the market and analyzed them. They found phthalates in all of them but two. The products didn’t list phthalates on their ingredient list, as all they have to list is fragrance.

Fortunately, we can choose natural alternatives that are just as convenient but not a health threat. Some of these options are made from citrus fruit peels or essential oils, are biodegradable and not tested on animals. Some of the companies that offer natural air fresheners include:

Citrus Magic  
Aura Cacia   

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