Air fresheners are a popular addition to shared washrooms and toilet facilities. Let’s face it, when you visit the bathroom in a busy commercial or public premises, no one enjoys having their senses assailed by bad odours.
The neutralising effect of air fresheners makes the whole experience that much more pleasant.
But air fresheners also have something of a bad reputation for containing harmful chemicals that can damage both human health and the environment.
Hygieneco Washrooms specialises in eco-friendly solutions for commercial toilet and bathroom facilities. Here, the company talks through some of the science behind air fresheners, and explains what you need to know to make a safe, healthy choice.
Busting the aerosol myth
Are aerosol dispensers good or bad for the environment? You may well have heard that aerosols damage the Ozone layer. But this is actually a misunderstanding – it depends on what the chemicals used in aerosol dispensers are.
An aerosol is a very small particle of either a solid or a liquid. We are surrounded by them in the air we breathe and in the environment, some of them man-made, some of them naturally occuring. Aerosols can be any number of different substances, from dust to water to industrial chemicals. Some substances in aerosol form do damage the Ozone layer. But not all of them.
Aerosol dispensers turn substances into very tiny particles so they can be distributed quickly and efficiently. This is very useful in something like an air freshener, when you want to spread the fresh smell as far and as quickly as possible. Aerosol dispensers will only cause harm if the chemicals they are turning into tiny particles are harmful – or if the substances they use to create aerosols are themselves harmful.
Chemicals to avoid
The controversy surrounding aerosols mainly arose because chemicals called CFCs used to be used as propellants in the dispensers – compressed gases which helped create the aerosols. CFCs do damage the Ozone layer, and were banned. After that, chemicals called HFCs were used instead, but it was eventually discovered that they were harmful to the environment as well. HFCs have been banned in the EU since 2014.
Although you should not have to worry about CFCs and HFCs anymore, some people argue that propellants are not good for the environment full stop. That is one reason why non-aerosol air fresheners are becoming increasingly popular.
Other chemicals to avoid in air fresheners include solvents, which are damaging to health. Similarly, look out for products that say they contain no VOCs, or volatile organic chemicals. VOCs are found in a wide range of household and industrial products, especially those associated with cleaning.
Examples of VOCs such as benzene or formaldehyde are associated with a wide range of health risks, including cancer. There are even some claims that the most unscrupulous air freshener manufacturers include nasty VOCs to deaden nerve endings in the nose so you can’t smell properly.
Hygieneco Washrooms supplies a range of safe, environmentally-friendly programmable aerosol air fresheners, as well as VOC-free, propellant-free and carbon footprint certified versions. All of our air freshener dispensers are installed, programmed, stocked and maintained by our professional personnel. For more information, visit www.hygienecowashrooms.co.uk.