Aromatherapy massage treatments are offered by most spas. But the essential oils used for massage may contribute to poor indoor air quality at spas.
As the spa technician massages your aching back, your tense muscles begin to relax and you breathe in the intoxicating scent of essential oils. Long promoted for our physical and mental well-being, essential oils may also contribute to poor indoor air quality at spas.
Massage treatments that use essential oils, also known as aromatherapy, are offered by most spas. Essential oils are derived from the seeds, roots, bark, and berries of certain plants and are refined to preserve their essential constituents.
There are approximately 150 essential oils with scents ranging from floral notes such as lavender and rose to lemon, peppermint, clove, and eucalyptus. Each essential oil has its particular uses. For example, lemon oil stimulates the immune system and has antibacterial and antiseptic qualities.
Release of VOCs
But a recent study published in Environmental Engineering Science reports that spas that use fragrant essential oils, or aromatherapy, may have high levels of indoor air pollutants. Essential oils may release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.
When VOCs react with ozone in the air small, ultrafine byproducts are produced. These are called secondary organic aerosols (SOAs). SOAs may cause eye, nose, and throat irritation.
Air sampling and analysis under different conditions led researchers to conclude that a spa’s layout and ventilation may affect the level of indoor air pollutants caused by the use of fragrant essential oils.
Use your nose
Check out a spa before booking a treatment to determine whether the scent of the products they use irritates your eyes, nose, or throat.