Air fresheners may ‘mitigate harm’ caused by indoor malodours, says study

Air fresheners may help to ‘mitigate the harm caused by indoor malodours’, according to a study published by Atmosphere, an international peer-to-peer journal.

Following its publication, the Household and Commercial Products Association (HCPA) released a statement about the study, which highlights the ‘importance’ of air fresheners.

According to the HCPA, this is the first time that the potential harms caused by indoor malodours (e.g. stale indoor air or bad smells) have been summarised in one publication. The organisation said: “The research confirms that malodours aren’t just an annoyance – they can have serious impacts on human health, behaviour, and quality of life. For this reason, mitigating and eliminating malodour should be a matter of public health.”

Exposure to indoor malodours can make people feel stressed, lethargic or depressed, says the HCPA, as well as causing headaches, sleep disorders and even nausea. The company added: “Additionally, these smells can threaten social relationships and cause economic harm. Malodours are socially undesirable and can influence a person’s attractiveness.

“The property value of a home or commercial building can decrease if it’s near industries that emit odours, hotels can lose business if they don’t maintain proper air quality, and malodours can decrease certain cognitive functions, impacting worker productivity. In fact, research estimates that improvements to air quality in office buildings can provide a substantial annual gain of $20 billion (€18.5 billion) in revenue.”

Air fresheners are one of the most popular and affordable options for mitigating indoor malodours. According to the HCPA, data shows that around 80% of US consumers have purchased an air freshener for their home. The organisation added: “Certain air fresheners don’t just mask the smell of malodours with pleasant fragrances; they capture or alter the molecular structure of odour molecules for true odour elimination.

“Cyclodextrin is an odour-eliminating ingredient made from corn starch that can trap odour molecules so they can’t travel through a house, and it is highly effective in removing smoke and kitchen odours.

“Spray air freshening products may also utilise pH buffers, like citric acid found in lemons, to neutralise acid or basic kitchen, pet or body odours and convert them into non-odourous molecules.”

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