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Everyday Items with Harmful Fumes

Did you know there are many common items in your home that can reduce your indoor air quality? Lurking in these products is an array of toxic compounds with the potential to make you sick. To better improve the air quality in your home, consider tossing, replacing, or simply limit bringing these items into your home:

Nail Polish & Nail Polish Remover

Air quality testing shows nail polish and removers are among the most toxic cosmetics, releasing phthalates, acetone, toluene, benzophenones, and more into the air quickly upon evaporation. If you must utilize these products, protect your respiratory system and use them in well-ventilated areas.

Cleaning Supplies

Bleach, ammonia, and other common household cleaning chemicals can release toxic gases into the air that can result in respiratory distress. Consider swapping out these chemical-laden products for more natural alternatives that can easily tackle the job – without the toxins: Baking soda, vinegar, soap powder, lemon, and hot water.

Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets and fabric softeners coat your clothes in a thin layer of chemicals and fragrances that are potentially toxic. One common ingredient - quantenary ammonium salts – can cause skin irritation, respiratory issues, nausea, headaches, and even vomiting. Swap out those sheets for a few wool balls or an old sweater to naturally eliminate cling, or throw some vinegar in your washer’s rinse cycle.

Air Fresheners

Aerosol sprays, plug-ins, stick-ons, and other chemical scent-laden items used to “freshen” air actually accomplish the opposite, releasing an array of toxic chemicals, many of which are not disclosed on labels. Think you’re breathing easy? Here’s why you may need air quality testing:

  • The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine links regular use of aerosol sprays with a 30-50% increased risk of developing asthma.
  • Most air fresheners release terpene, a dangerous organic compound that reacts with naturally occurring ozone to create the known human carcinogen formaldehyde.
  • Phthalates, commonly found in fresheners, may increase the likelihood of reproductive, endocrine, and developmental problems.


•Paraffin (sludge waste from petroleum that is contained in most candles) releases carcinogens when burned. Worse, some scented candles have been found to carry lead in the wick, releasing dangerous amounts into the air when burned. And the sooty residue leftover? Benzene and toluene, carcinogens and nervous system hazards. Scrap synthetic scents of all forms. Unleash the odor absorbing power of baking soda and white vinegar, and opt for air fresheners that are comprised only from essential oils or fresh flowers to scent your home.

Non-Stick Cookware

•The coating on non-stick pans, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), releases toxic gasses when heated that have been linked to cancer, organ failure, reproductive damage, and other health issues. Trade non-stick pans in for stainless steel or iron, or if you just can’t bear to part with them, cook at lower temperatures, as higher temperatures increase gases.


Carpet can contain a host of toxins. Mold, mildew, bodily fluids, and more can contaminate older rugs, while newer carpets can contain and release a wide variety of potential polluters, including flame retardants, anti-stain coatings, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as dichlorobenzene (a known carcinogen), and 4-Phenylcyclohexene (not just that “new carpet smell,” but linked to visual, nasal and respiratory issues). Think carpets are cozy? Opt for organic cotton, hemp, or jute, or upgrade to hard surfaces such as tile and hardwood – and keep them clean.

Cheap Furniture

It may seem like a bargain, but cheap furniture can be toxic. The pressed wood in particleboard pieces, such as those used in kids bedrooms and bargain storage units, are typically made with toxic formaldehyde or isocyanate glues. Brominated and chlorinated flame-retardants found in upholstered furniture made with cheap polyurethane foam are also dangerous, and linked to cancer, neurological impairment, and hormone disruption. Invest in quality new or second-hand solid wood furniture that will last longer – and treat your body better.

Not feeling so good all of a sudden? Contact Aire Serv® and let their experts help you find the perfect solution for your home’s indoor air quality issues.

For Further Reading:

4 Reasons to Care about Your Indoor Air Quality

Facts About Air Duct Cleaning

Plant Appreciation Day

Ultimate Indoor Air Quality Cheat Sheet