Nothing sickens us more than when a company willfully poisons those who are working to improve their health. It is for this reason that we feel compelled to warn others about our personal experiences with a gym in our local area. While it is fortunately a small chain, reporting our problems with it may help other members, or prospective members. In addition, some of its practices are undoubtedly mirrored in other Gyms throughout the country, and all of these gyms should be avoided.
What We Didn't Know Did Hurt Us -- Lots
A couple of months into our membership, we began experiencing trouble breathing whilst working out. Allow me to explain that being breathless and 'winded' are not things that any of us are accustomed to. While it is true that there is always room for our improvement; overall, we are in terrific shape. Our quick exhaustion and breathlessness when visiting the gym seemed to make no sense. In addition, I experienced trouble with asthma, a disease which had not manifested itself since my switch to a natural diet. On a particularly bad night, several of us experienced pronounced chest pains, like those from a heart attack, at exactly the same time. The odds of one of us experiencing angina are minuscule, so for two of us to experience it at exactly the same time is a statistical impossibility. Something in that gym was obviously afoul. The whole near heart attack thing really motivated us into researching the problem.
Initially, an assumption was made that there was simply low oxygen content in the air; due to the lack of outside air flow, combined with the increased oxygen usage in the gym. This seemed especially likely at night, since the doors are not constantly being opened and closed as they are during the day. Due to what we refer to as our "writer's hours", we visited the gym in the very early hours of the morning.
Serious as a Heart Attack
It was only when we suddenly suffered from chest pains in unison that we realized that there was a much greater problem. We had previously had concerns about the air fresheners in the gym, but they were not being used when we first began our membership, and we initially had no idea just how dangerous they could be. After committing to extensive research, we realized that we had bull's-eyed the problem with the chemical air 'fresheners'. We prepared a large packet of information on the known dangers of the modern febreze-type air fresheners (those containing dichlorobenzene and hormone disrupting phthalates), and submitted this packet to the owners. We discovered that there are essentially no rules or laws protecting the public from dangerous chemicals in fresheners, which are virtually unregulated. We should expect to find them using dioxin next, and doing so legally.
The new generation of air 'fresheners' has been linked to lung problems and heart problems, reproductive effects, along with severe asthma attacks -- just what a person needs when working out. The electronic (auto-dispensing) air fresheners were actually placed directly above the treadmills, where air would be inhaled most strenuously, and people would be undergoing the most stress on their hearts and lungs. It is just a matter of time before an unlucky individual experiences a heart attack as a direct result of these chemicals. It may have already happened, because it is very unlikely that any fatal or debilitating heart attack will be traced back to the air "freshener" that caused it, and very few people are aware of the problem.
Lying To Our Faces and You Should Expect The Same Response
The gym's owner promised to remove the air 'fresheners' after we relayed our findings to her. We figured that if we educated Mrs. Staley thoroughly about just how dangerous this new generation of air 'fresheners' are, then she would have enough of a conscience to ensure that the problem would be fixed permanently. It seemed that she had, but our luck was only temporary. After about a month, we were again gassed upon entry. She figured that we would be too stupid to notice the chemical smell again, or even the chest pains. The toxic gases had returned with a vengeance. The rank smell, like that of molten plastic, was even stronger than it had been before.
These chemicals are easily identifiable, because after experiencing them for a short period, the smell receptors inside the nose are unable to work efficiently, leaving the victim unable to smell anything at all. This is actually the intended effect of the highly toxic new generation of air 'fresheners' -- to poison the mucous membranes enough to destroy one's sense of smell. It is this chemically neutralized lack of smell that people assume is 'freshness', since all odors disappear, as well as every other natural scent. By the way, inhalation is the quickest route for chemicals to reach the blood and the brain, and the chemical manufacturers either did no safety testing, or at least made the results of such testing 'disappear'.
Brave readers may test this effect by gassing themselves with Febreze, waiting five minutes, and attempting to smell a fresh rose, or a freshly cut lemon. We do not actually recommend this test, of course. Especially do not try this if you must do any physical exertion in the following twelve hours. This experiment may be tried only AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Returning to the gym for a face-to-face conference about the 'fresheners' resulted in the admission by co-owner Elizabeth Staley that she had been substituting with Febreze on the mats at the walkway into the gym. She said that the floor mats developed a musty odor on rainy days, and that Febreze was her solution. We had to resist our impulses to choke her, in order to continue the meeting civilly. We wondered why outside air, dehumidifiers, and plants had not been used instead; since these things would have actually improved the health and enjoyment of her customers. Nevertheless, it seemed like a mistake made in ignorance, and she again promised to eliminate the toxic chemicals. This promise materialized only for a week before she was back to lacing the gym's air with excessive amounts of dichlorobenzene and phthalates. It is plausible that she switched to another brand with the same chemicals, but she clearly believes that she is free to poison her own customers, while deceiving them about it. The poison gas is clearly set to continue indefinitely, or at least until more ethical management takes the gym over. Who knows when the health of gym members will ever be given priority over these artificial scents? After all, we wouldn't want a gym to smell like a gym, would we? One remarkable aspect of this whole situation is that there was never an odor problem at the gym before the gassings began.
Litigation May Be The Solution
Sooner or later, someone will have a serious heart attack as a result of trying to get healthier at a gym using these chemicals, and hopefully, the victim will discover the connection between the heart attack and these ungodly chemicals. In that case, a lawsuit on the grounds of reckless endangerment will be well deserved, and believe me, we have been seriously considering one ourselves. For the less fortunate, the lawsuit would be for manslaughter. We feel certain that ours is not the only gym in the country to use these dangerous chemicals, and such gyms are in direct violation of O.S.H.A. regulations for having high levels of the aforementioned chemical compounds in the air. They are also likely to be in violation of E.P.A. rules. Gloves should always be worn at gyms, due to the chemicals that are used to clean surfaces; but there is virtually nothing that you can do to protect yourself from the new generation of air 'fresheners' (except wear a gas mask or seek a good attorney). If you have a similar problem with your gym, workplace, or even your wife, we recommend that you present them with the following resources in the hope that you are dealing with a considerably better person than our gym owner.
Why Air Fresheners Are A Terrible Health Compromising Idea
How Air Fresheners Are Killing You
Episode 6 of The Health Wyze Report (Audio Edition)
Natural Resources Defense Council Data
Study: Common Air Fresheners Contain Chemicals That May Affect Human Reproductive Development
Air Fresheners Linked to Lung Damage
Many Cleaners, Air Fresheners May Pose Health Risks When Used Indoors
Air fresheners: So far from fresh
Toxic Substances Portal - Dichlorobenzene P.D.F. Reference Manual (C.D.C.)
Centers for Disease Control Data for Dichlorobenzene
Centers for Disease Control Di-2-ethylhexyl Phthalate information
Altered Genes and Hormones from Phthalates Study from Oxford
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Phthalates Report