Dear Uber Driver, Please Stop Using Air Fresheners Immediately

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Dear uber driver please stop using air fresheners - Dr. Axe

Getting from point A to point B in a healthy way is getting easier and easier. Take the airport, for example. Water bottle filling stations keep millions of plastic water bottles out of our oceans and landfills, all the while protecting our bodies from bottled water risks. And have you noticed healthy snacks popping up in airports and even gas station pitstops? Things like organic fruit, nuts and grass-fed jerky are easier and easier to find. Bike sharing programs and bike lanes, organic fast food and even exercise bikes in airport terminals are now a thing. Traveling is getting healthier and I’m certainly grateful for these options.

But there’s still one major travel problem I consistently deal with time and time again … the dangers of synthetic scents. Have you ever stepped into a ride-share vehicle or taxi and just been absolutely floored by fragrance chemicals? Dizziness, headache, fatigue, asthma, nausea … it’s not just in your head — people experience very real (and often varied) symptoms after fragrance exposure. That’s because different scents contain chemical cocktails that can damage virtually every system of the body, including the immune system.

After talking to colleagues and patients and other friends and family members, it became clear I wasn’t the only one up in arms about the chemical assault taking place in these vehicles. There’s actually a petition circulating, urging Uber to ban all air fresheners and fragrances from vehicles. (Here’s another one from an allergy sufferer.)

I understand Lyft, Uber and taxi drivers aren’t on a mission to harm riders. But despite mountains of research showing clear links between synthetic scents and health problems, car air fresheners are still readily available. Old-school ones you hang off of the rearview mirror, vent clips, gels and car-specific deodorizing sprays are legal and, unfortunately, many drivers still use them.

Why Taxis & Ride Share Vehicles Should Ban Standard Air Fresheners

Here are some fast facts on synthetic fragrances:

  • About 95 percent of chemical fragrances are derived from petroleum, according to the National Academy of Sciences. (1)
  • Drivers in cars loaded with synthetic scents may become desensitized and no longer even notice the strong odors. This is known as olfactory fatigue. (2) This could explain why you feel overpowered by the fumes when you get in the car and some drivers may seem oblivious.
  • Fragrances contain an unidentified mixture of ingredients, including known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, allergens, respiratory irritants, reproductive toxicants and neurotoxic chemicals. A single air freshener could contain thousands of different chemicals. (3)
  • Not all symptoms linked to air fresheners are obvious. Some of the lesser-known side effects include infant diarrhea and earaches, dermatitis and ventricular fibrillation. (4)

Anne Steinemann, PhD, a world-renowned researcher who focuses on fragrances and human health,…

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