Photo: What's in air fresheners?

Make air freshener with 1/2 cup baking soda and 20 drops of an essential oil. Store in a jar and punch holes in the lid. (Credit: zen via Flickr)

Air freshener ingredients are of huge concern since many are made with formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), naphthalene (a suspected carcinogen), toluene (known to cause liver and kidney damage) and xylene (a neurotoxin).

And to think air fresheners make up people's daily spritz and spray routine!

More disturbing is how they work. Many mask an undesirable scent, but some use a nerve-deadening chemical that interferes with our sense of smell. Others coat your nasal passage with an oily film. Many air fresheners can trigger asthma attacks and affect our central nervous system. Go scent-free.

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Instead, rely on good ventilation, deodorize with baking soda, or choose an essential oil-based, non-aerosol, eco-friendly air freshener. Bottom line: avoid synthetic fragrances.

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