Described as having the ability to " purify" or " disinfect" the air, sprays and diffusers based on essential oils are increasingly present in our homes. According to a study by the ANSES (National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety) in April 2020, the analysis of poisoning cases reported to poison control centers highlighted a series of adverse effects such as eye, throat and nose irritation.
In addition, the current COVID-19 pandemic context may increase the desire to use these products. Indeed, to protect themselves against the virus, some people are using essential oils to sanitize their homes. ANSES reminds that essential oils are not a solution against the coronavirus.
Essential oils are aromatic and volatile liquids. They are obtained from plant matter by steam distillation and bear the name of the plant from which they are derived. These scented substances are chemically pure compounds that are volatile regardless of how they are used (skin application, aromatic bath, atmospheric diffusion...).
The applications of essential oils are diverse. Widely used in cosmetics and perfumes, they also have medical applications because of their therapeutic properties, as well as food uses because of their antimicrobial and antioxidant effects. Some essential oils can be used with a diffuser or an air mister.
Essential oils are sometimes applied directly to the skin to treat pain in a specific part of the body - to relieve back pain, for example, to relieve sore muscles. A study conducted by Iranian scientists shows that inhaling geranium essential oil may reduce anxiety in people who have had a heart attack.
According to Serge Michalet, lecturer at the Institute of Pharmaceutical and Biological Sciences of the University Lyon 1, essential oils can cure colds, flu syndromes, stress but also digestive disorders. Although they have many benefits, essential oils are composed of substances that are potentially allergenic and irritating to our body.
Essential oils, even when used sparingly, emit a wide range of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), especially when diffused into the air through a diffuser or mister. These chemical compounds are sometimes carcinogenic, such as acetone, ethanol, butane, acetaldehyde and methanol. These substances have been found in almost all types of essential oils.
In addition, some of the VOCs emitted are likely to oxidize, mainly by reacting with the ozone naturally present in the air. Essential oils diffused with the help of a mister can therefore be an additional source of indoor air pollution. Their VOC emissions add to the airborne VOCs already produced by other sources, such as furniture, building materials, cleaning products or cosmetics.
According to ANSES, a few cases of irritation have been reported to French poison control centers. Some of the cases observed by poison control centers following the use of sprays or diffusers have revealed symptoms of eye and upper respiratory tract irritation, as well as coughing and breathing difficulties. However, most of these symptoms are minor and disappear rapidly after exposure has stopped.
According to a study conducted by the magazine 60 million consumers, several allergenic substances have been found in the composition of essential oils, such as limonene, geraniol and linalool. If you suffer from asthma or pollen allergies, be careful before using essential oils in a diffuser or mister.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor concentrations of certain pollutants can be two to five times higher than outdoor concentrations. Since we spend about 80% of our time in enclosed spaces, it is natural to want to make sure that we do not breathe these pollutants.
In general, to prevent the risks associated with poor indoor air quality, it is important to limit the sources of indoor pollution and to ventilate and air out confined spaces.
Opening the windows regularly is the easiest way to remove polluting particles from the air in your home. According to the APQAI (association for the promotion of air quality), it is recommended to ventilate for at least 15 minutes a day. It is particularly important to do so in winter, when humidity levels are high, even though it is tempting to keep all windows closed. If you live near a busy road, keep your windows closed during rush hour. If you suffer from hay fever, don't open your windows in the morning when pollen counts are at their highest.
Also, make sure your rooms are well ventilated. Poorly ventilated housing can cause problems for both your home and your health.
Researchers from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) tested 14 brands of common household air fresheners in 2007, and found that 86% of the scented sprays and air fresheners tested contained phthalates.Phthalates are hazardous chemicals known to cause hormonal abnormalities.
Scented candles don't seem to be any more effective at cleaning the air, as most fragrances are filled with harmful chemicals. The black soot created by burning scented candles is toxic. The soot particles are very small, so they are easily inhaled and settle deep in the lungs.
One of the most effective ways to keep your indoor air healthy is to get an air purifier. TEQOYA air purifiers effectively neutralize particles of all sizes, up to the most toxic, the nanoparticles, thanks to the principle of air ionization. Moreover, they fight against the most stubborn odors, not by covering them, but by removing their components. They emit, without ozone, a very large quantity of negative ions that return the air to its healthy and natural composition.
In conclusion, according to several studies conducted, some oils do indeed have therapeutic properties. Nevertheless, consult your doctor before using essential oils, especially if you are pregnant or if you have health problems. Furthermore, stop diffusing essential oils that give you allergy symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, etc.