Essential oil diffusers can be dangerous. Anses: "Consumers must be warned of the risks"

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Elia Tabuenca García
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Anses, following a study on intoxication from essential oils, warns about the risks of using these products and asks for greater vigilance

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Many people use diffusers with essential oils to purify the air in their home, take advantage of the beneficial effects of the different essences or simply perfume the rooms. The essential oilshowever, they can also have contraindications and even be toxic. Of this he warns the French Anses and asks to be vigilant on the use of these products.

Sprays and diffusers they are present in many homes, pleasant to use and fragrant, the essential oils that are used inside them however present some risks that should not be underestimated. To warn of this is a new toxicology study by Anses, the French Agency for Health and Safety which, following its 2017 work, has now published data regarding exposure to these products in a series of poisoning cases reported to poison control and toxicological surveillance centers in France.

The Agency also reviewed the scientific literature relating to the health impacts of these products and their potentially harmful effects on health.

The problem is that, even under normal conditions of use (therefore without abusing them or using them incorrectly) unwanted symptoms may occur of an irritative type affecting the eyes, nose, throat and even breathing.

These irritations can be due to essential oils such as high content of phenols or ketones, unsuitable for inhalation and respiratory tract irritants. However, Anses specifies that, in most cases, these symptoms are mild and resolve quickly immediately after exposure is stopped.

According to Anses, then, essential oils emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can become a source of air pollution in our environments, adding to others already present. In fact, some of the VOCs emitted can oxidize, particularly with the ozone present in the air. Furthermore, VOCs can also have irritating or sensitizing properties, even when they are of natural origin.

However, the available studies are insufficient to produce an exhaustive list of the full range of substances emitted by these products. I am therefore further studies needed to better characterize the long-term emissions of organic compounds and the secondary formation of other compounds following atmospheric oxidation.

Better inform consumers about precautions to be taken and risks

On the basis of all these data, Anses asks the French public authorities to monitor the dissemination of these products and of better inform those who use them about the risks and precautions to be taken. These are especially true for people suffering from asthma or other chronic respiratory diseases who are at higher risk from the potentially irritating substances emitted by essential oils.

Anses also asks doctors to always report any cases of intoxication, in order to have a more complete picture of the risks and possible side effects of these products.

How to diffuse essential oils in the environment

Beware of children

The Anses study showed that many cases of intoxication were linked to accidental exposure, often by small children, who, due to an oversight, found themselves handling and putting these products in their mouths.

The French agency therefore recommends keep sprays, diffusers and bottles of essential oil products out of the reach of children, in the same way as detergents or detergents.

We too have often indicated essential oils as very concentrated and powerful products to be used with caution, and never for small children. The speech would be long, if you want to experience them especially for the aromatherapy power we advise you to rely on an expert.

Reference source: Anses 

Read also:

Essential oils: what they are and the right doses to use them at their best

Essential oils: 20 possible uses for beauty, home and health

Essential oils: why are they so effective?

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