While there are several factors that can affect your indoor air quality (IAQ), one of the more surprising is the use of popular scented products. Candles, air fresheners and cleaning solutions sometimes contain chemicals that, when mixed with other airborne elements, can create cancer-causing agents. A chemical called limonene, used to give products a citrus fragrance, isn’t toxic on its own. But when its particles are released into the air, it can react with the ozone to produce formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde, the very same ingredient used to embalm the deceased, has been known to have myriad detrimental side effects.  This dangerous carcinogen can cause skin irritation, burning eyes, coughing fits, nausea and, in some cases, nose and throat cancer. The good news is that you can control the amount of limonene in the air by making a few changes in the products that you use.

Reduce the amount of limonene- infused products in your home. You will be surprised at how many products you own that contain this substance. Unfortunately, it isn’t always listed as an ingredient (most often it is described as “perfume”), so using your nose is imperative when sniffing out the suspects. Any cleaners that trumpet a lemony or citrus scent are easy to spot and more than likely contain the colorless liquid hydrocarbon.

Candles are a bit trickier to pin down as they could use any number ingredients for their scent. But unless your citrus candles were handmade and using only natural ingredients, it would be wise to get rid of them as well. The same is true for those paraffin wax melts (such as Scentsy) that also have “fragrance” listed as an ingredient. Air fresheners, especially aerosols with citrus scents, should be discarded.

Open a window when you use candles. Some of the most impactful solutions are also the most obvious. If you are someone who is passionate about candles (and there are many), it might not be so easy to get rid of all of your Honey Clementine Yankee Candles. Burning them with your windows open will definitely help in keeping the limonene levels lower, though it also won’t aid in the desired effect of “scenting the air” around you.

Buy house plants that absorb formaldehyde. We recently posted a blog that trumpeted the cooling effects of plants. Many of these same plants are also ideal for ridding your home of airborne toxins, especially formaldehyde. Some of the more common house plants that have proven most effective in fighting this dangerous chemical include: lavender, spider fern, common guava, grub fern, squirrel’s foot fern and Japanese royal fern.

Make Your Own Candles. Mass-produced paraffin candles, regardless of their scent, are made from petroleum-based wax and several studies suggest that they release toxins into the air. Some candles are also made with wicks containing lead, which is released into the air when burned – inundating surfaces and clothing. Homemade beeswax candles are a natural, healthy alternative to those store-bought brands and a fun family craft that can be accomplished over the weekend. There are dozens of great candle recipes that can created with non-toxic ingredients and most can be made inexpensively.

How to Make Beeswax Candles 

Buy Natural Cleaners. There are many chemical-free cleaners on the market, many with pleasant natural scents and ingredients clearly listed on the packaging. Your local natural food grocer or favorite online shopping destination should have several product lines that offer effective cleaning solutions without the harmful chemicals. Lines including Mrs. Meyer’s (which also makes a line of soy candles), Seventh Generation and others are a bit pricier than the big-box brands, but are much safer for your home and the environment. And if you are an ambitious DIY consumer, you can always make your own.

Remember, if you have concerns about your indoor air quality, Interstate is your first, best source for IAQ issues. Call us today at 405-794-8900 and we’ll set up an in-home IAQ evaluation!

Related Blogs:

Should I Get an IAQ Evaluation?

How Is Your Indoor Air Quality, OKC?

*Photo courtesy of Pixabay


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