Air Fresheners May Damage Your Lungs

A chemical called 1,4-dichlorobenzene, or 1,4-DCB, could harm your lungs.

It is found in air fresheners, toilet deodorizers, and mothballs, and is present in the blood of nearly all Americans. 1,4-DCB is the chemical that gives mothballs their distinctive smell.

The finding came as part of a National Institutes of Health study that looked at 11 household chemicals. All 11 chemicals are emitted as gasses by common household products. 1,4-DCB was the only chemical in the study which was linked to lung damage.

Those who had the highest amounts in the chemical in their blood showed diminished lung function, which could be serious for those with asthma or other lung problems. Reduced lung function is also a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Air fresheners have been linked to cancer in the past, and this new study may demonstrate one reason why. It really is quite amazing that this chemical found in air fresheners, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, is present in the blood of 96 percent of Americans.

This is especially alarming as this toxic chemical has been associated with so many health problems. In general you want to avoid having any benzene derivative chemicals in your body as they have very similar toxic side effects.

It's best to avoid using any chemicals in your home. However, that a might tall achievement in this day and age. What you can do, however, is limit your exposure as much as possible with the following tips:

  • Buy and eat, as much as possible, organic produce and free-range, organic foods. Remember that processed foods are processed with chemicals! If you can only purchase one organic product it probably should be free range organic eggs. Additionally I believe raw milk products are a key to staying healthy.


  • Avoid artificial food additives of all kind, including artificial sweeteners and MSG


  • Only use natural cleaning products in your home. Most health food stores will have these available or you can search online for them. I also urge you to consider getting rid of your existing towels, sponges, rags and other conventional tools you use to clean your home with. Not only are they some of the top sources for illness-causing germs in your home, but also they do a very poor job of cleaning the biological and toxic aspects of dirt in your home.

    In their place, I highly recommend the PerfectClean line of cleaning tools, like the PerfectClean terry cloths and dusters. Due to their ultra-microfiber construction, you can use them with only water (so you eliminate the need for cleaning your home with chemicals) and they clean at a deeper level than any other product you could find out there.

  • Switch over to natural brands of toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics.

  • Avoid spraying insect repellants that contain DEET on your body. There are safe, effective and natural alternatives out there, like Neem-Based Botanical Outdoor Gel.


  • Remove any metal fillings as they're a major source of mercury. Be sure to have this done by a qualified biological dentist.


  • Seek to build your health up through the nutrition insights detailed in my Total Health Program, and then limit your use of drugs (prescription and over-the-counter) as much as possible. Drugs are chemicals too, and they will leave residues and accumulate in your body over time.

Artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances can pollute the air you are breathing, with 1,4-DCB and other chemicals. If you use air fresheners because you are trying to eliminate unpleasant scents, try to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

If you are using air fresheners because you like the scent, therapeutic essential oils are an excellent, and safe, alternative.



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