It may be time to toss air fresheners, mothballs, and toilet bowl cleaners that contain synthetic deodorizers, suggests a recent study. While pleasant-smelling to some, these products often contain the volatile organic compound 1,4 dichlorobenzene (1,4 DCB), which can wreak havoc on the respiratory system (Environmental Health Perspectives, 2006, vol. 114, no. 8). The study used data on 953 adults from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994) to examine the link between lung function and the presence of 11 volatile organic compounds in the blood. Researchers noted a 4 percent decline in lung function and a heightened risk of chronic respiratory diseases for those with the highest levels of 1,4 DCB. To reduce your exposure, look for chemical-free air fresheners and cleaning products.
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