Tonight, I was watching television and an advertisement came on for Air Wick air fresheners and I took notice because they have a range called Air Wick National Parks. Immediately I wondered if they’ve found a way to attach a name like “National Parks” to their advertising campaign to trick us into thinking that their products are good for us. If you take a quick look at the short videos on this page – The Natural Effect – you’ll get a good idea why I’m worried. On the other hand, maybe they really have come out with a good, natural range of products which would be great. So I wanted to find out.
Searching Air Wick’s main website
First thing I did was search Air Wicks US and UK websites (http://www.airwick.us & http://www.airwick.co.uk). The UK site was the most obvious one pushing the National Parks range. The first image I saw on the US site was a Teddy Bear looking happy standing next to an Air Wick product, but it only took a click or two to find the National Parks adverting as well. The UK site says the National Parks range is a “range of fragrances inspired by the UK’s distinctive and majestic National Parks” and “the Air Wick Master Perfumers have crafted an exclusive collection of four fragrances which will help reignite memories of individual parks”. All sounds so lovely, doesn’t it?
What are the ingredients?
I wanted to find out what ingredients they use in these products. I searched quite hard on the UK site and came up dry. I couldn’t find ingredient information anywhere (if it’s there somewhere, please let me know). Then I looked at the US site. Again I searched for a long time and came up dry but then, by chance, I found a link on the “Contact Us” page that redirected me to one of Air Wick’s parent company websites – http://www.rbnainfo.com – which contains ingredient information and MSDS’s (Material Safety Data Sheets) for RB’s large range of companies (it appears that RB is the parent company of many of the household brands we know well).
So here are the listed ingredients for AIR WICK® FRESHMATIC Ultra – Rocky Mountains (National Parks – USA)
- Ingredient / Function
- Distillates (Petroleum), Hydrotreated Light / Solvent
- Butane / Propellant
- Hydrofluorocarbon 152a / Propellant
- Propane / Propellant
- Fragrance – Parfum / Fragrance
- Isobutane / Propellant
Well, 5 out of 6 of them are just chemicals that are solvents of propellants. I can’t imagine why I’d want to spray them around my house and I can’t imagine how they’d help “reignite memories of individual parks”. The sixth ingredient is just called “fragrance” with no details. That’s suspicious.
What’s in the MSDS?
I then downloaded the MSDS (see this link or the PDF file at the bottom of this page) and here are a couple of extracts.
CAUTION EYE IRRITANT. CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE. May be harmful if directly inhaled. May cause allergic reaction in some individuals. DO NOT spray towards face or body. DO NOT get in eyes. Avoid contact with skin. CONTAINER MAY EXPLODE IF HEATED. Do not puncture or incinerate container. DO NOT expose to heat or store at temperatures above 120°F (49°C). DO NOT position near heat or electrical sources. DO NOT spray into open flames. DO NOT spray directly onto surfaces. In case of contact with surfaces, wipe immediately with damp cloth. Use in well-ventilated rooms away from sleeping areas. For adult use only. Product is not a toy. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND PETS.
This product is a “Hazardous Chemical” as defined by the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200.
Potential environmental effects – This product has not been tested.
Ingredients – Proprietary Fragrance – 1-2.5 %
Accident Release Measures – Personal precautions – Keep unnecessary personnel away. Do not touch damaged containers or spilled material unless wearing appropriate protective clothing. Do not touch or walk through spilled material. Shut off all sources of ignition.
Accident Release Measures – Environmental precautions – Prevent further leakage or spillage if safe to do so. Do not contaminate water. Advise authorities if product has penetrated drains, sewers or water pipes.
Toxicology Information – Proprietary Fragrance – Not available
None of that makes me feel like I want this stuff in my house. Just the opposite. Still don’t know what they are using as a fragrance so, actually, we could be bringing any chemical at all into our homes with these products. I’d rather avoid things like this than take the risk.
One thing we know for sure is that at least 97.5% of this product is a cocktail of chemicals we don’t want and less than 2.5% is the mysterious fragrance that, supposedly, we’d like to smell in our homes. It doesn’t make any sense to me and not even knowing the ingredients of the fragrance seals it for me.
What can we believe?
Well, we certainly can’t believe advertising. A glossy advertising campaign using all the right words like “National Parks” means nothing without information and accreditation behind it. We have a right to know what the ingredients are and how they were gathered, prepared and combined. Luckily there are a lot of companies out there who sell natural products with complete transparency (see Resources > Websites).
We owe it to ourselves to provide our bodies with the best environment we can so that we can perform at our best. It’s worth a little effort and a healthy skepticism of advertising. Unfortunately, advertising is going to trick the majority of people. That’s a real pity..
I plan to avoid any RB product because I don’t trust them. I think I can trust other companies more. At least other companies appear to use natural products and list their ingredients clearly and openly.
Related Posts and Links – Can we believe advertising?
- The Natural Effect – highlighting the dangers of advertising
- http://www.rbnainfo.com – RB the parent company of many of the household names we know – http://www.rb.com/rb-worldwide/rb-history
- MSDS for AIR WICK® FRESHMATIC Ultra – Rocky Mountains (National Parks – USA) – PDF file, 188 Kb – US – AIR WICK Freshmatic Ultra – All Scents – English (Aug 2013)