Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Monday 1 November 2010

Keep on passing the open windows...

It had to happen. Marketing has progressed so far beyond irony that there is no longer a word for it. An air freshener manufacturer is selling 'green fresh fragrances inspired by open windows.'

So you can now sit in your hermetically sealed, double glazed home (in accordance with new building regs), and rely on an electrically operated gadget to pump out regular doses of chemically generated 'open windows, newly mown grass and morning breeze.'

Sounds lovely, doesn't it?

Contains citronellol and bourgeonal. May cause sensitization by skin contact. Harmful to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. Avoid contact with skin. If swallowed, seek medical advice immediately and show this container or label. Wear suitable gloves. Spillage of the liquid might cause damage to surfaces. People suffering from perfume sensitivity should be cautious when using this product. Air fresheners do not replace good hygiene practices.'

Neither do they replace chemical-free air - unfortunately something of a rare commodity these days. From the florist Demetrius observed spraying perfume on her wares to the youngsters strutting about town in a suffocating miasma of spray-on 'fragrance', the chemical-mongers are everywhere among us.

And so is childhood asthma, affecting an estimated 1.1 million children in the UK. Concerned parents may well check NHS Choices, to be told that common triggers for attacks in susceptible children 'include house dust mites, animal fur, pollen, tobacco smoke, cold air and chest infections.'

So you take your fags outside, wrap up warm and don't let the cat sit on the baby. No mention of three different combinations of chemicals electrically pumped into the air every 45 minutes, in rotation 'so you always notice them'. Perhaps they mention it further on:

'Environmental factors that may trigger asthma include exposure to air pollutants, such as cigarette smoke, and certain substances that can cause allergic reactions (allergens) such as pollen and animal fur.'

That would be a 'no' then. And even when other suspects are brought in later - fungi, aspirin and sulphites - the nearest it gets is 'chemical fumes', which hardly suggests that parents might want to open a window instead of resorting to air freshener - a misnomer so blatant it almost passes unnoticed.


  1. Oh yes indeed. And it is getting worse with the application of fine particle technology (nano). This is useful for key medical treatments, engineering and specialist uses. But to direct high impact chemicals into the brain and respiratory system for purely commercial uses has me very worried. As well as the capability for delivering addiction.

  2. "From the florist Demetrius observed spraying perfume on her wares to the youngsters strutting about town in a sufficating miasma of spray-on 'fragrance', the chemical-mongers are everywhere among us."

    And yet, every summer, I get stuck, after having worked late, nose-to-armpit (I'm short, you see) with some fellow Tube traveller who has no idea at all that deodorant exists... :(

    Your Turing word is 'state'!

  3. Those air 'fresheners' smell disgusting. I think that's my nose warning me that they're poisonous.


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