When it’s necessary to keep a home closed up for efficient heating and cooling, many homeowners look for ways to combat stale air and odors. Essential oils have been gaining popularity as an option to freshen indoor air, but there are good reasons to be concerned how they affect a home’s air quality.

How Essential Oils Affect IAQ

Essential oils are touted as natural and safer alternatives to scented candles and plug-in or spray air fresheners. These oils are considered “natural” because the aromatic compounds they contain are sourced from the flowers, leaves, roots, stems, peels and/or bark of different kinds of plants found in nature. Various oils are purported to offer health benefits in addition to their pleasant scents, but they also contain and can release potentially toxic chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air your family breathes. Most of the aromatic oils on the market aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so it’s not required that their labels list the potentially harmful ingredients they may contain.

The VOC and Essential Oil Connection

It’s well known that volatile organic compounds in a home’s indoor air supply can pose a serious threat to health and well being. Exposure to airborne VOCs can worsen allergies and asthma, and cause symptoms like eye and respiratory irritation, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. Depending on the specific chemical, concentration and length of exposure, VOCs can also lead to kidney, liver and central nervous system damage, or even cancer. Recent studies have shown that numerous essential oil products – including those that claim to be “100% pure,” “organic”, or “plant-based” — emit one or more hazardous VOCs such as alpha-pinene, acetene, benzene, toluene, ethanol and acetaldehyde.

Promote Good Indoor Air Quality Wisely

You can limit your risk of possible adverse health effects from VOCs released by essential oil products by investigating safer options for getting rid of stale air and household odors.

For personalized advice about how to improve air quality in your Eastern North Carolina home, contact us today at Jackson & Sons.