With scores of air fresheners out there, you can have the messiest room in your home smelling like a tropical fruit stand or a misty rainforest. But all those seemingly pleasant scents may be bad for your health.

Gels, candles, sprays plug-ins, and other household air fresheners could be masking far more serious problems than the stench of a carpet that’s been peed on by a pet or a couch that’s been doused in beer. They may also consist of harmful chemicals.

Hugh Poole is a licensed home inspector who also does air-quality investigations, and he says that using air fresheners to conceal odours can be hazardous to your health.indoor air quality air fresheners

“You want to know that you’ve got mould,” says Poole, founder of CanInspect Building Inspections who’s on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s list of trained indoor air quality investigators. “You want to know that something has died in your house. You want to smell those carpets—if they stink they may be unhealthy. You want to know that your roof leaks and you can smell that damp wood. If you’ve got damp wood, you’ve got bugs and you’ve got mice.

“Air quality problems are symptomatic of something else, and you have to figure out what that is,” he says. “When you disconnect from your world with olfactory system, you cut out your feedback. You actually have to trust your nose because it’s telling you something.”

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