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HEALTH

French told to avoid list of ‘toxic’ air-fresheners and essential oils

There are potential risks of using "air purifying" sprays and essential oils around your home, a new study by a leading consumer group has revealed.

French told to avoid list of 'toxic' air-fresheners and essential oils
Photo: Welcomia/Depositphotos
The magazine 60 Million Consumers (60 Millions de Consommateurs) has turned its attention to sprays and oils for the first time – and their findings aren't pretty. 
 
Testers investigated 46 “so-called purifying products” – including ten top-selling sprays with essential oils. 
 
“The verdict is that all of them contained undesirable substances,” Christelle Pangrazzi, the associate editor of the magazine, told the LCI newspaper.
 
Products by La Croix, Fébrèze, and Sanytol were reportedly among those that didn't pass the test. 
 
“Fighting pollutants and allergens in our homes has become a huge marketing tool for manufacturers. But these products don't purify homes like you're be led to believe – rather the opposite.” 
 
The oils and sprays contain Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – organic chemicals that pose risks to people's respiratory system, the magazine found.
 
The substances in the sprays can also trigger asthma attacks, headaches, skin reactions, nausea and can even cause people to gradually become more sensitive to allergens. 
 
Pangrazzi added that the sprays could be particularly harmful for children under the age of three. 
 
And what's more – the sprays can pose potentially lethal dangers for cats.
 
Pangrazzi recommended that instead of using sprays, people should try to air out their house for 30 minutes a day (in off-peak hours in big cities) and to regularly clean the home. 
 
“There's no reason to use synthetic products, it's just a waste of money,” she said. 
 
The full details of the study – including the names of the products tested – will be available in the April/May edition of the magazine. 
 
The same magazine has, over the last year, warned people off most nappies sold in France and organic panty liners that contain weedkiller

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HEALTH

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.

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