There was a campaign against aerosol sprays about 40 years ago because they were depleting the ozone layer. Whether by the company’s choice, or the Clean Air Act from the Environmental Protection Agency, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs-the ozone-depleting stuff), were eliminated from aerosol sprays. That means aerosols are safe to use, right? Well, not if you care about your health and the environment.
We’re not depleting the ozone layer anymore with aerosol sprays, but we are doing damage to our environment, particularly related to climate change. With each spray of an aerosol can, it emits a tiny bit of hydrocarbon and/or compressed gas which contributes to climate change. Each spray alone isn’t doing detrimental damage, but it’s about the big picture. Envision it this way – Let’s say you’re standing on an Olympic-sized lake covered in ice. If you take one jump, you will probably be okay. But let’s add a few of your friends, and they each take a jump. A little riskier, but could be fine. Now add your co-workers, neighbors, etc., and everyone jumps. Yikes.
According to NASA, the particles emitted from aerosols head into the Earth’s atmosphere where they reflect light back towards the sun. “The additional reflection caused by pollution aerosols is expected to have an effect on the climate comparable in magnitude to that of increasing concentrations of atmospheric gases. The effect of the aerosols, however, will be opposite to the effect of the increasing atmospheric trace gases – cooling instead of warming the atmosphere.”
If light is being reflected back to the sun, and cooling the atmosphere, the change in climate will be most detrimental for rainforests and tropical areas. These habitats thrive in the hot environment, and though no studies have been concluded as to the outcomes, it is plausible to assume that wildlife and plants that have evolved for the warm climate will not be able to survive over time.
Modern-day aerosols also contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to ground-level ozone levels, a key component of asthma-inducing smog. This especially applies in children.
According to The Guardian, Bristol University’s “Children of the 90s” project followed the development of 14,000 children since before their birth. “It said 32% more babies suffered diarrhea in homes where air fresheners were used daily than in those where they were used once a week or less. They also suffered more from earache. Daily use of aerosols in other products were associated with a 30% rise in diarrhea, and, to a lesser extent, vomiting.”
Another major issue with aerosols is “huffing.” Huffing is when aerosols are sniffed or inhaled as a narcotic drug. Of course, this goes against every “use as directed, don’t inhale” warning; however, their presence can make the abuse of drugs easier. This is a serious problem as Timberline Knolls, the residential treatment center explains: “inhaling highly concentrated amounts of the chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can cause heart failure and death within minutes after repeated inhalation.”
What to Choose Instead
Instead of using aerosol sprays to freshen the air and body, opt for natural, non-aerosol room sprays and personal fragrance. Read ingredient labels to ensure there are no volatile organic compounds. You can also choose natural candles, such as those made with soy, palm, coconut, or beeswax – just be sure the wick is cotton and not zinc.
For shaving cream, opt for a shaving soap or cream soap. A shaving soap has a dual benefit, as it is both cleansing and created for smooth shaving.
Deodorant spray cans have recently made a comeback, but with all the knowledge we now have about the damage aerosols cause, we recommend a natural stick deodorant.