Can aromatherapy produce harmful indoor air pollutants?

Oct 20, 2011
Environmental Engineering Science is an authoritative monthly online peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal publishing state-of-the-art studies of innovative solutions to problems in air, water, and land contamination and waste disposal. It features applications of environmental engineering and scientific discoveries, policy issues, environmental economics, and sustainable development. Credit: © Mary Ann Liebert Inc., publishers

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.

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 (SOAs), which may cause eye and airway irritation.

Taiwanese researchers Der-Jen Hsu (National Kaohsiung First University of Science and Technology), Hsiao-Lin Huang (Chia-Nan University of Pharmacy and Science, Tainan), and Shiann-Cherng Sheu (Chang-Jung Christian University, Tainan) tested both fragrant and Chinese herbal essential oils for SOA formation in a controlled-environment study chamber under different test conditions. They also performed air sampling and analysis in spa centers that offer massage therapy using essential oils.

The authors compared SOA levels associated for the various fragrant and herbal essential oils tested and present their results in the article, "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 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).

Explore further: Study casts doubt on climate benefit of biofuels from corn residue

More information: The article is available free online at www.liebertpub.com/ees

Provided by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

4 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Common plants can eliminate indoor air pollutants

Nov 04, 2009

Air quality in homes, offices, and other indoor spaces is becoming a major health concern, particularly in developed countries where people often spend more than 90% of their time indoors. Surprisingly, indoor ...

Recommended for you

US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

Apr 18, 2014

The United States announced Friday a fresh delay on a final decision regarding a controversial Canada to US oil pipeline, saying more time was needed to carry out a review.

New research on Earth's carbon budget

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.