Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sweet Smell or TOXIC TIME BOMB?!?

Last week, in-between checking Facebook and Twitter, I opened a third window to peruse my local Craigslist. "Sporting Goods" is one of the categories I'm fond of, especially right before the holidays when people tend to sell their used (or UNused depending on how you look at it!) exercise equipment at rock-bottom prices. I was thrilled when I came across The Fluidity Bar for $60- brand new it's $250 w/shipping from the company. Having trained in classical ballet for many years as a child and young adult, I knew this would provide a home workout I would actually do and love. (No, that's not me in the picture...YET! ;)
I met the seller in a restaurant parking lot halfway between our two homes. Being Craigslist experienced, I knew to throw an old blanket on the ground next to my car and have her set up the Fluidity Bar so I could examine it thoroughly. It looked in excellent condition: solid, unscratched, the fold-out vinyl-covered mat, clean with not a tear in sight. We folded it back up and loaded it into my car. I handed her cash and she handed me a bag with the workout dvds. I drove home giddy with my treasure.

As soon as I got it into my living room (an enclosed space) and set it up, I was assaulted by the familiar, repulsive (to me) smell of plug-in air freshener. I don't know what brand- but I recognized the smell. One of the couple's who are out-call bodywork clients of mine, use it in their multi-million dollar home. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to say anything to them, and in the past they've mostly rolled their eyes at me when I've tried to discuss less toxic ways of living. So I just discreetly unplug the ones in the room where I set up the massage table until it's time for me to leave. Still, after being there for 3 hours, I can always smell the stuff in my hair and have to wash it as soon as I get home, before getting a migraine from the smell.

It's also the same smell that permeates everything in Wal-Mart. I know this because once a friend bought some yarn there and asked me to knit a scarf for her daughter. I couldn't work with the yarn because of the odor. The few times I've been in a Wal-Mart since, the same smell hits me as soon as I walk in the door.

So I did what every good researcher does... I went online and began searching out ways to get rid of the smell without endangering the vinyl. Of course, I already knew this stuff was toxic, especially regarding animals- it's one of the first things I ask pet parents about when doing a holistic consultation.

What I wasn't prepared for was that it's SO toxic, nothing gets rid of it! Not vinegar, baking soda, dish washing soap, lemon juice, or even bleach. I even tried the fruit and vege wash that cuts oils. As if it were a living, malevolent thing, that air freshener scent got even stronger with every experimental washing. Soon the entire room reeked of it and I had to move the Fluidity Bar to the back patio.
Luckily, the next day I was able to find another Craigslist seller who was willing to just sell me the vinyl mat part- one that hadn't been exposed to plug-in air fresheners.

I am very much enjoying my Fluidity Bar workouts and have been inspired anew by this experience to URGE pet parents to become more aware of the environment they are creating.

NOTE: the chemicals (voc's) in plug-in air fresheners are formulated to cling to surfaces including the inside of your nose- so you will not smell the scent on objects when the object is in a room with the plug-in

These products are not tested for 20 years (the actual possible life span for most dogs) to see if they cause cancer in any of us before being put on the grocery store shelves. And even when some of the ingredients are known to cause cancer, the products aren't necessarily pulled. See what I'm talking about by doing your own research! You can start here, and here, and here.

SOME of what I found:

"Air Fresheners contain Volatile Organic Compounds, VOC's, which are irritants for the lungs, eyes and skin. These toxic chemicals have properties linked to solvents and paint thinners and react with other cleaning materials and even home furnishings to create unhealthy indoor air quality. These products are not to be considered air purifiers or air cleaners in any way. They can actually make you sick."

"Unfortunately, plug-in "air fresheners" emit volatile organic compounds that are easily absorbed by porous building materials, especially sheetrock/drywall and fiberglass.

Because artificial fragrances are now chemically designed to stick to most everything in which they come in contact, washing fragrances out of most anything is very difficult. If the A/C ducts in the home you're in have exposed fiberglass inside, which many of them do, then vacuuming them out won't do much of anything.

My wife is severely chemically sensitive. We're currently renting and I'm looking for a home to buy. I've resigned myself that I will have to retrofit any home we buy because of the prevalence of artificial fragrance use in homes now. The most important part will be locating the areas in the home where the heaviest fragrance use was and tearing out the drywall, installing new formaldehyde-free drywall, and painting it with no-VOC paint."


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this information. I always knew these were toxic which why I don't use them however I never realized just how toxic they are. My mother-in-law just started using one...but thankfully it is ONLY one.

Nadine M. Rosin said...

You are WELCOME, pawpurry! Please tell others- ESP your MIL!