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Find One In Every Car, You'll See
March 4, 2012 1:46 PM   Subscribe

Little Tree AirFresheners have been around since 1954. The ubiquitous shapes are in movies, involved in litigation, burn, are art, get you ticketed and may be killing you.
posted by Xurando (31 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I thought the movie link would be to the movie Seven.
posted by sweetkid at 1:51 PM on March 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Whenever I see those things, I think of that scene from Se7en, and I shudder.
posted by gwint at 1:51 PM on March 4, 2012


Ha, sweetkid. Jinx.
posted by gwint at 1:52 PM on March 4, 2012


Here's the clip from Se7en. Warning: gross.
posted by sweetkid at 1:53 PM on March 4, 2012


Wow, that Healthwyze site only takes a few seconds to get into tinfoil hat territory.
posted by tantrumthecat at 1:57 PM on March 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


That last link is quite the mix of quackery and good points. I think I have whiplash from reading it.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:03 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, that Healthwyze site only takes a few seconds to get into tinfoil hat territory.
Did you know that WATER is a CHEMICAL?!?!?!?
posted by b1tr0t at 2:12 PM on March 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Did you know that WATER is a CHEMICAL?!?!?!?

Yes, but DIHYDROGEN MONOXIDE is a COMPOUND!!!!!!!
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:22 PM on March 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pro tip: The little tree air fresheners are the boarding passes to those time machines down in South America.
posted by chambers at 2:23 PM on March 4, 2012


Yes, but DIHYDROGEN MONOXIDE is a COMPOUND!!!!!!!

Unregulated chemical compounds IN THE VERY WATER WE DRINK AND GIVE TO OUR CHILDREN????
posted by b1tr0t at 2:24 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh come on, they spell their site "wyze", and you were expecting something different?
posted by wilful at 2:30 PM on March 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I must say though, I see these ads on TV for automatic chemical dispensers and I am more than a little bit horrified.
posted by wilful at 2:32 PM on March 4, 2012


My car smells like wet feet and stale french fries. That's the way a car should smell. Plus those air fresheners give me a headache.
posted by sneebler at 2:37 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


That last link isn't actually about those tree-shaped air fresheners, is it?
posted by hippybear at 3:08 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the University of Washington: Hidden Hazards in Air Fresheners and Deodorizers

Why are the hazards hidden—aren't toxic chemicals listed on labels?
 No. Air fresheners do not need to list all of their ingredients, and typically do not. If any ingredients are listed, they are usually safe-sounding ones, rather than potentially hazardous ones.

 All air fresheners tested (sprays, gels, solids, disks, and oils) emitted chemicals classified as toxic or hazardous by federal laws, but none of these chemicals were listed on any product label or material safety data sheet.


From the Wikipedia link: In 2009, Stanley M. Caress of the University of West Georgia and Anne C. Steinemann of the University of Washington published results from two national epidemiological studies of health effects from exposure to air fresheners. They found that nearly 20 percent of the general population and 34 percent of asthmatics report headaches, breathing difficulties, or other health problems when exposed to air fresheners or deodorizers.

From the journalists Resource: Fragranced Consumer Products: Chemicals Emitted, Ingredients Unlisted

The study’s findings include:

The products tested emitted more than 130 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Of these, “24 are classified as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws, and each product emitted at least 1 of these compounds.”

The average product emitted more than 17 VOCs. Of these, 1 to 8 were toxic or hazardous.
Nearly half the products generated at least 1 of 4 carcinogenic air pollutants (acetaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde, and methylene chloride).

Of all VOCs identified, only one was listed on a product label and only two were listed on any material safety data sheet (MSDS).

Products labeled as “green” or “natural” did not emit significantly fewer VOCs than other products.

Overall, “none of the products listed all chemicals emitted, and 14 of the product labels did not list ‘fragrance’ (or a similar word), yet this appears to comply with U.S. laws.”


Scented Products Emit a Bouquet of VOCs
A survey of selected scented consumer goods showed the products emitted more than 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including some that are classified as toxic or hazardous by federal laws.

posted by nickyskye at 3:29 PM on March 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


Ok, they emit those compounds, but the poison is the dose, no? The University of Washington link claims that some of them are dangerous at the level of "one molecule," which doesn't sound very likely. And all of these links cite that University of Washington study—where the authors admit they didn't test for any actual risks— to back their claims.

These things may be secretly killing us for all I know. But I don't know any more now than when I read those links because concentration and exposure levels matter.
posted by Maias at 3:44 PM on March 4, 2012


Here's a novel idea... CLEAN your car/house, don't camouflage the stench with perfumes.

Sheesh.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 4:53 PM on March 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


My bestest girlfriend K. buys mini sticks of incense and burns them in her car with the windows open when she can. It's probably no worse for her than VOC inhalation.
posted by hippybear at 5:00 PM on March 4, 2012


From the Environmental Protection Agency: household products like air fresheners, release pollutants more or less continuously.

Paradichlorobenzene [a pesticide with the abbreviation p-DCB and often written, para-dichlorobenzene] is also the key active ingredient in many air fresheners

From Wikipedia: Like many hydrocarbons, p-DCB is lipophilic and will accumulate in the fatty tissues

So, basically, the key ingredient in those deodorizers is an accumulative poison.

Apparently, these deodorizers are a billion dollar industry.

From the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council): Protect Your Family from the Hidden Hazards in Air Fresheners

A 2007 study by the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) spiked this public debate. In testing 14 different air fresheners sold at a Walgreens drug store, the study concluded that many contained chemicals that could cause developmental and reproductive problems, especially for infants [source: NRDC].

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most store-bought air fresheners consist of formaldehyde, petrochemicals, p-dichlorobenzene and aerosol pollutants [source: EPA].

Why so many mentions of formaldehyde? The gas can lead to impaired breathing in people and can cause cancer in animals [source: EPA].

Time mag: How "Fresh" Is Air Freshener?

A Science Daily article re the interaction of chemicals produces toxic levels for humans: Many Cleaners, Air Fresheners May Pose Health Risks When Used Indoors
posted by nickyskye at 5:33 PM on March 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


"....and may be killing you."

They do smell that way.
posted by noaccident at 5:51 PM on March 4, 2012


"Genetic disorder, by the way, is the secret code for "we're clueless". How about you are clueless? The tinfoil is getting in your eyes so you cannot read scientific or medical books?

I wonder if these same people analysed common strong smelling plants like rosemary and bay leaves, cloves etc what chemicals they would find ? Not all plants want to be eaten.
posted by RuvaBlue at 5:58 PM on March 4, 2012


I make a room spray; 1 oz perfumer's alcohol mixed with about 10 drops of essential oil, then add about 4 oz distilled water. Put in spritzer bottle. Shake before spritzing. Voila, pretty smells, aromatherapy, no VOC. Easy-peasy.
posted by dejah420 at 6:26 PM on March 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


dejah420: "pretty smells"

Synæsthesia much?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:42 PM on March 4, 2012


Contrary to what appears in the HealthWyze link, the active ingredient in Febreze is actually a cyclodextrin, not 1,4-DCB. Febreze may certainly have other unwholesome things in it, but 1,4-DCB isn't one of them as far as I can tell.

(1,4-DCB, a.k.a. paradichlorobenzene, previously on Metafilter.)
posted by en forme de poire at 2:29 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ok, they emit those compounds, but the poison is the dose, no? I don't know where you live, but 'round here most cabs have a lifetime supply hanging from the rear view mirror. Literally have seen dozens of little trees hanging there.
posted by Gungho at 6:03 AM on March 5, 2012


Oh, wait, I know how this works!

First, we start hearing about the dangers of air freshener, and then a week or so later, some enormous corporation introduces an 'organic' alternative, which is more expensive, doesn't last as long, but has the additional side effect of assuaging paranoia.

Man, I should do this for a living.
posted by MrVisible at 6:12 AM on March 5, 2012


First, we start hearing about the dangers of air freshener, and then a week or so later, some enormous corporation introduces an 'organic' alternative, which is more expensive, doesn't last as long, but has the additional side effect of assuaging paranoia.

As stated above: "Products labeled as “green” or “natural” did not emit significantly fewer VOCs than other products."
posted by nickyskye at 9:01 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like posts like this, as vindication. I've bitched about air freshener for decades. But the beginning for me was my mother's hair spray. From that, I learned to be sensitive to aerosols and also aromatics. But eventually I understood, it wasn't the scents, it is the chemicals that carry that scent, that bother me. (where 'bother' {avoidance, coughing, weazing, choking, vomiting...})

I've been puzzled for years why it wasn't part of the general mix of stuff others bitch about. Not even amongst the natural food coop crowd. Nasty evil poison is what it is!
posted by Goofyy at 9:37 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I make a room spray; 1 oz perfumer's alcohol mixed with about 10 drops of essential oil, then add about 4 oz distilled water. Put in spritzer bottle. Shake before spritzing. Voila, pretty smells, aromatherapy, no VOC. Easy-peasy.

That's probably harmless, but you should realize that essential oils are VOCs. A VOC is just any organic compound that boils under 250° Celsius.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 1:04 PM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


As stated above: "Products labeled as “green” or “natural” did not emit significantly fewer VOCs than other products."
It isn't often that the two contradictory meanings of the word "organic" collide, but here it is.

I'm not even going to start on the term "essential oil". *Shudder*.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:38 PM on March 5, 2012


As in organic dry cleaning.

Conventional dry cleaning uses organic compounds, such as perc, hence it is just as organic as the self-styled organic cleaners.
posted by bad grammar at 5:22 PM on March 5, 2012


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