Thursday, July 27, 2006
Fresh Air, Bad Lungs
A breath of fresh air may not really be as satisfying anymore. Air fresheners can actually make the air harder to breathe, according to a new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. One particular Volatile Organic Compound, 1,4 dichlorobenzene, which is emitted from fresheners like room deodorizers and mothballs, was found to reduce lung function.
Other recent studies also show that things commonly found in the air can negatively affect lung capacity. Ozone levels in the atmosphere, produced by car exhaust, are higher in the summer and also make it harder to breathe, especially for children, according to a study published in June (also in Environmental Health Perspectives). Ozone action days help people recognize when levels are higher so that they can stay inside and take other precautions like driving less.
But who is really going to stop using air fresheners or stop going outside in the summer? I would venture to guess that very few people want to smell some disgusting odor when the problem can be remedied immediately. These studies and warnings help people understand why it is harder to breathe, but might not help them breathe any easier.