A test of air freshener products recently conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that 12 out of 14 popular air freshener products contained a chemical known to be harmful to the health of humans. Phthalates, known to cause reproductive problems and hormone disruption in humans, were found in virtually all air freshener brands, including several Walgreens-branded air fresheners that the popular retailer has now pulled off its shelves.
Neither the FDA nor the EPA conducts any safety testing or spot checking of toxic chemicals in air freshener products. Essentially, consumers could be exposed to any number of toxic airborne chemicals from air freshener products, with no warning whatsoever. The safety of chemicals used in these products is utterly ignored by the FDA in much the same way that perfumes and cosmetic products containing cancer-causing chemicals are routinely ignored by the agency. The FDA makes virtually no effort to protect American consumers from cancer-causing or hormone-disrupting chemicals in tens of thousands of consumer products, and were it not for the efforts of consumer advocacy groups and environmental protection groups like the NRDC, no one would be protecting consumers at all. (U.S. government agencies usually have to be sued by groups like the CSPI or Public Citizen before they will take any pro-consumer action...)
Only two products tested by the NRDC -- Febreze Air Effects and Renuzit Subtle Effects -- contained virtually no detectable levels of phthalates, yet the twelve other products tested positive for the chemical even though some were labeled "unscented" and none of them listed phthalates as an ingredient. Some products were even labeled "All natural!" (Which just goes to demonstrate, yet again, that the "All natural" claim is meaningless.)
Walgreens pulls its air freshener products
According to the NRDC, the air freshener products with the highest levels of detectable phthalates were Walgreens Air Freshener, Walgreens Scented Bouquet, and Ozium Glycolized Air Sanitizer. Walgreens has since pulled its air freshener products from its shelves, apparently out of this newly revealed health concern.
Four consumer advocacy groups (and environmental groups) are now filing a petition with the EPA and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), calling for the agency to start testing air freshener products for this toxic chemical. The four groups include the Sierra Club, Alliance for Healthy Homes and the National Center for Healthy Housing.
All this brings to mind an important question: Why hasn't some government agency taken steps to test these toxic chemicals in air freshener products before?
Toxic products for the home are found everywhere
The sad truth is that you can walk down the aisle of just about any popular retailer (Walgreens, Wal-Mart, etc.) and find literally hundreds of different products that contain dangerous chemicals, many of which are well known to promote cancer. These chemicals are openly added to laundry detergents, skin creams, cosmetics, pet products, household cleaners, car cleaners, dish soap, perfumes, shampoos and many other products regularly used by consumers. Of course, most consumers have no idea they're consuming cancer-causing ingredients, and most retailers seem to have no interest whatsoever in testing their products for dangerous chemical substances.
Why was Walgreens selling products if it didn't know what was in them? And what about retailers like Wal-Mart, Costco and Sam's Clubs? Aren't they also aware that many of their consumer products contain cancer-causing chemicals?
The sad truth is that most brand-name consumer products contain at least one toxic chemical, and that's true for food as much as it is for home care products. Unless you're shopping at a health food store and buying truly natural, organic, unscented and environmentally responsible products, you can bet there are toxic chemicals all over your home (and in your body) right now.
The average American consumer uses close to 100 toxic chemicals before she even leaves the house in the morning. Many of those chemicals are encountered in the morning during showering, shaving, skin care, hair care and application of cosmetics. Other chemicals are encountered in breakfast foods, including bacon, sausage, processed milk, breads and other processed foods. By the time the average consumer leaves their home in the morning, they've already poisoned their liver, pancreas, kidneys, heart, lungs and brain. A typical American consumers has over 300 different synthetic chemicals in their body right now. Is it any wonder degenerative disease rates have skyrocketed in the U.S. over the last several decades?
Lots of chemical contaminants now emerging
I think the U.S. population is suddenly waking up to the fact that the vast majority of popular products marketed to them and sold at retailers are, in one way or another, dangerous to their health.
People have suddenly come to realize that brand-name dog food is so toxic that it will kill your dog, that toys from China contain dangerous levels of lead, that perfume products can contain as many as 21 different cancer-causing chemicals and that even popular laundry detergent products wash your clothes in a toxic brew of synthetic chemicals and artificial fragrances. Sites like NaturalNews and the Organic Consumers Association (www.OrganicConsumers.org) are, of course, trying to do something about this by educating consumers. We've even gone out of our way to acquire thousands of kilograms of natural laundry detergent to replace the toxic, brand-name detergents sold in stores (watch for an announcement in the next two days, or click here to see our new soap nuts product). Our aim is to eliminate chemicals in 500,000 loads of laundry in the next 90 days, protecting consumers from cancer and protecting the environment from the downstream toxicity caused by the use of commercial laundry detergents (which are dangerous to aquatic ecosystems).
The bottom line to all this is that corporations are selling consumers a cocktail of toxic chemicals found in tens of thousands of different products, none of which are effectively regulated by any government agency. Across the industry, there seems to be no concern whatsoever for the safety of consumers, and that's why everything from pet food to perfume is now manufactured with chemicals that are well known to cause cancer, infertility, neurological disorders and many other serious health problems.
Believe me: The discovery of phthalates in air freshener products is just the tip of the iceberg. What other chemicals lurk in these same air freshener products? And can you imagine all the toxic chemicals found in high-fragrance shampoos, nail polish, makeup remover and dryer sheets? When the truth comes out about those products someday, consumers are going to shocked to discover just how toxic their homes (and bodies) have become thanks to the relentless use of synthetic chemicals by commercial product manufacturers.
This stuff gets absorbed into the food at the grocery store!
Oh, and here's another huge "Wow" realization that, I guarantee you, nobody else is talking about these days: Many of these toxic fragrance chemicals escape from their product bottles, circulate in the air at grocery stores, and get absorbed by other food products sold in the same store.
I'm not kidding: That's why the peaches I once bought at Costco smell like Tide laundry detergent. It's because the peaches have soaked up some chemicals from the Tide! It's why fresh produce sold at grocery stores sometimes tastes like soap, or why water sold in cheap plastic jugs easily soaks up fragrance chemicals and tastes like Bounce dryer sheets. Any food item you buy from a retailer that sells toxic cleaning products is, itself, slightly toxic.
Right now, nobody is talking about this. This risk of chemical cross-contamination hasn't even been admitted to by mainstream scientists, the FDA, the EPA or any government agency. And yet it's a huge issue that impacts virtually all consumers; even healthy consumers who think they're reading labels and making smart shopping choices. If they're buying food or beverages under the same roof as a store that sells garden pesticides, toxic air fresheners, chemical-soaked dryer sheets or other products containing dangerous chemicals, then they're buying chemically contaminated food!
It's yet another reason to buy from local farmers' markets or co-op stores. Support Community-Supported Agriculture organizations (CSAs) and grow what you can yourself, in your own back yard, where the food goes from your garden to your plate, without being subjected to toxic chemicals in the air. And get some detox products to get rid of these chemicals. Some great sources include Heavy Metal Detox from www.DetoxMetals.com and Metal Magic from www.BaselineNutritionals.com (another interesting product is Natural Cellular Defense which I recommend through a friend Jason Groode at http://www.mywaiora.com/195399 )
Trust me on this issue: We've only heard the beginning of all this. Just wait until scientists someday wake up and start realizing that virtually everything sold at most retailers is contaminated with toxic chemicals -- even when those chemicals are not added to the products during manufacturing! Just remember this:
Products sitting on the shelves at retailers exchange molecules. Fruits and vegetables absorb molecules in the air, and solvent chemicals can go right through plastic containers. When you buy something at a store, you're buying a little bit of everything in the store! It's another reason to stop shopping at retailers that sell pesticides, toxic soaps, laundry products, solvents and cleaners. Get your food from a FOOD store, and make sure it's real food (not that processed garbage).
In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.