Recently while traveling to Atlanta, we stopped for lunch at a well-known chain restaurant. The food is always good. Sadly, the ladies’ room reeked of “air freshener.” I checked the ceiling for the little box that dispenses the toxic chemicals. It hung on a wall in a corner above the door.
According to an article by Richard Alexander, founding member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, air fresheners often interfere with the ability to smell by coating nasal passages with an oil film or by releasing a nerve deadening agent. Two toxic chemicals found in air freshener are formaldehyde and phenol. Formaldehyde is a highly toxic, known carcinogen. That means that every time we go into a bathroom “freshened” with these chemicals, we breathe in a substance that causes cancer. Could that be why I cough and wheeze and often have a blinding headache when I’ve been exposed to those smells?
Phenol can cause your skin to swell, burn, peel, and break out in hives if it touches you. It can also cause cold sweats, convulsions, circulatory collapse, coma and even death.
Why are we being subjected to such poisons in restrooms, restaurants, and even in our own homes? Because we don’t complain to the owners and managers of the public places that use these chemicals and because we don’t read labels and learn how the ingredients cause damage to our bodies.
Richard Alexander has served as a member of the Board of Governors of The State Bar of California, President of the Santa Clara County Bar Association and the Board of Governors of Consumer Attorneys of California. He is a founding member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and heads Alexander Hawes, LLP