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Essential oils not so cuddly

It's been obvious for a long time that sniffing hippies can be dangerous to your health.

The stink of patchouli in the morning has long been associated with horrible student accommodation, provincial headshops playing whale music, and earnest finger-jabbing from politically naive white youths with dreadlocks. New research though, suggests that there may be even more dangers to essential oils, and not just the unexpected burn of tea tree oil on the sensitive parts if don't wash your hands BEFORE you go for a wee….

Source: Environmental Engineering Science

Spas that offer massage therapy using fragrant essential oils, called aromatherapy, may have elevated levels of potentially harmful indoor air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ultrafine particles, according to an article in Environmental Engineering Science, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.. The article is available free online at www.liebertpub.com/ees

Fragrant essential oils, derived from plants, may release various VOCs into the air. VOC degradation caused by the reaction of these compounds with ozone present in the air can produce small, ultrafine byproducts called secondary organic aerosols (SOAs), which may cause eye and airway irritation.

Taiwanese researchers tested essential oils for SOA formation in a controlled-environment study chamber. They also performed air sampling and analysis in spa centers that offer massage therapy using essential oils.
In the paper "Characteristics of Air Pollutants and Assessment of Potential Exposure in Spa Centers during Aromatherapy." They conclude that the layout and ventilation within a particular spa may affect the level of indoor air pollutants produced during massage with aromatherapy.

"Dr. Der-Jen Hsu and his colleagues have done a very nice job in bringing attention to often overlooked health risks associated with luxuries intended to enhance our sense of well-being," says Domenico Grasso, PhD Editor-in-Chief and Vice President for Research, Dean of the Graduate College, University of Vermont (Burlington).


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