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Multiple Chemical Sensitivity - Air Fresheners and Health Don't Mix

Updated on August 14, 2018
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Julie has been undertaking spiritual work for 23 years and imparts her knowledge of meditation and inner experiences through her writing.

I'm a sensitive soul, tough on the outside, and like a marshmallow on the inside. I have a strong body and life force that can repel many things life throws at it. I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty, and worked hard in a profession and volunteered to do many arduous filthy tasks in difficult conditions. So I can tolerate most things without complaint of being covered in filth and being subject to smells only found in sewers.

Therefore, it surprised me that there was something my body would not tolerate. Air fresheners. When I say not tolerate, it's not a judgment on my part that they stink. It's that my head starts to spin and I get a terrible feeling in my stomach and want to vomit. It's physical and not brought on because of neurotic thoughts. I remember a difficult journey from a train station in Somerset England in a taxi with several friends. Sitting in the back seat I started to get that terrible nauseating sensation after the smell of one of those Christmas tree fresheners you hang from the mirrors. I was too polite to ask the driver to put it in the glove compartment. I actually wanted to tell him to throw it out. I was too polite and held onto my strong physical desire to cover his taxi with my digested lunch.

Last year I decided to get a gym membership, my physical temple was in need of refurbishment and tender loving care as happens from time to time. The space in our local gym was quite good, it's fairly new. The treadmills look out over the swimming pool and modern cafe and all seemed quite pleasant doing the circuit of weights and squats and all things physical.

Then, a smell started wafting through the ethers. No, it was not Hercules without deodorant or smelly gym socks. Darn air freshener. Thoughtfully placed in several sectors of the large room were timed dispensers that pushed out a mist of chemicals to ensure the ambiance of the room stayed 'pleasant.'

I was willing to let it go as I was able to maneuver myself to avoid being directly sprayed until it came to the stretches and warm down at the end of my session. Yep, right above my head - whoooosh - sprinkled with dichlorobenzene and phthalates, and if I was to continue with my fitness routine, every day the same thing would happen.

Now I'm no chemist so those two big words you just read - I just found them, they look impressive in that paragraph, don't they? See I looked up air fresheners on the net - and there you go - 100 good reason's not to spray toxic chemicals on top of yourself.

Air fresheners and modern fragrances contain chemical nasties that are now known neurotoxins, carcinogens, endocrine disrupters. They affect your DNA, and reproductive system. Ignorantly you spray or place this stuff willy nilly around your home and car and anywhere you like, oblivious to the health consequences to your children, visitors, passengers, customers and yourself.

Even if you are not sensitive to air fresheners, doesn't mean they are not affecting you. Be aware of that. I have a barometer in my skin, lucky me. My body tells me when something is not right. But imagine if you don't have that, imagine your child sitting playing in your living room amid the air freshener plugged into the power socket. And for good measure spray the stuff overhead to do a good job of making the room smell nice. Yikes! Be especially aware if you or your child suffers from respiratory ailments, migraines or skin irritations.


Open the darn window. Use natural fresheners, flowers, grow them in your garden, use plants. Find the natural alternative and stop poisoning yourself. You wait, people will start suing over this one in the future, bet you $100.

I spoke to the gym manager who said he would address the situation and thanked me for bringing it to his attention. Don't be afraid to mention the chemical fragrant problem you may have at work or in public places like restaurants or playrooms for kids. You can be tactful and not insulting - that might take some practice. But perhaps your friends or work colleagues don't know the problems these chemicals cause. They may actually thank you for caring.

I am amazed at what lengths people go to cover up the smell of natural elements. There is something rotten in Denmark when chemicals are a preference over a bunch of lavender and pretty flowers. Enjoy nature, you and your health will be glad you did.


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