In Chicago Goodwill Stores, HVAC Systems Fill The Air With Chemicals

Have you ever been inside a Goodwill secondhand store somewhere in Chicagoland or Southeastern Wisconsin, and found yourself thinking: “What the heck is that horrible smell?”, “Why does this Goodwill always stink so bad?”, or “Why does this Goodwill store smell exactly the same as the one across town?” The answers to these questions are here, and they might make you decide to boycott Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago.

Introducing the Scent Styler™

One day, when I was waiting in a very long checkout line at the Goodwill in the West Loop, I noticed a black box mounted high on the wall. The text on the box said Scent Styler. Soon I was looking for the Scent Styler™ (and finding it) in every Goodwill store I visited.

A Scent Styler™ also known as AromaStyler™ inside a Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago store
A Scent Styler inside a Goodwill store

The Scent Styler must be responsible for the heavy, fetid Goodwill fragrance. But how exactly does it work? And is it safe?

Fill Your Lungs With Chemical Micro Particles

It was easy to find information about how the Scent Styler works:

The AromaStyler™ (also known as the Scent Styler™) is one of the most powerful, easy-to-use atomizing HVAC diffuser systems in the marketplace today . . . Its innovative technology converts liquid scent into dry vaporous, very fine, micro particles (50 microns or less in size), creating a virtually invisible vapor that floats evenly across any large open space for complete, highly-effective adaptive scenting.

From, the official website of Air Scent International, the manufacturers of the AromaStyler (also known as the Scent Styler)

It was even easy to find specific chemicals Air Scent International uses in their Scent Styler fragrances. The company posts its fragrance disclosures online, which is a very forthright and commendable thing for a company to do these days. So what chemicals are we breathing in Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago stores? We can’t know which specific scent, or custom blend, is being diffused in Goodwill. However, we can take a look at some of the chemicals that appear in Air Scent International’s fragrances, just to get an idea of the types of things the company uses to make fragrances. Here are the chemicals in the “AROMIZER – OCEAN BREEZE” mixture.

3-Cyclohexene-1-carboxaldehyde, 4-(4-hydroxy-4-methylpentyl)- (31906-04-4); Ethanone, 1-[(3R,3aR,7R,8aS)-2,3,4,7,8,8a-hexahydro-3,6,8,8-tetramethyl-1H-3a,7-methanoazulen-5-yl]-(32388-55-9); Octanal, 7-hydroxy-3,7-dimethyl-(107-75-5); 6-Octen-1-ol, 3,7-dimethyl- (106-22-9); 7-Octen-2-ol, 2,6-dimethyl- (18479-58-8); 1,3-Benzodioxole-5-carboxaldehyde- (120-57-0); Undecanal, 2-methyl- (110-41-8); 2-Oxabicyclo[2.2.2]octane, 1,3,3-trimethyl- (470-82-6); 1,3-Benzodioxole-5-propanal, .alpha.-methyl- (1205-17-0); Anise oil-(8007-70-3); 2,6-DIMETHYL OCTADIEN-2,6-AL-8 -(5392-40-5); 3-Cyclohexene-1-carboxaldehyde, 2,4-dimethyl-(68039-49-6); 2,6-Octadien-1-ol, 3,7-dimethyl-, 1-acetate, (2E)- (105-87-3); Benzencarbinol-(100-51-6); benzoic acid benzyl ester-(120-51-4); benzyl 2-hydroxybenzoate-(118-58-1); 2,6-dimethyl octadien-2,6-al-8-(5392-40-5); 2,6-dimethyl-2-octen-8-ol-(106-22-9); 4-allyl guaiacol-(97-53-0); 2,6,10-dodecatrien-1-ol, 3,7,11-trimethyl- (4602-84-0); (E)-3,7-dimethyl-2,6-octadien-1-ol-(106-24-1); 4-hydroxy-3-methoxy-1-propenyl benzene-(97-54-1); D-para-mentha-1,8-diene-(5989-27-5); 3,7-dimethyl octa-1,6-dien-3-ol-(78-70-6)

Sure, some of these scary-sounding chemicals are probably just natural aromas, such as those emitted by black pepper or vanilla beans. Myself, I’m no chemist and no doctor. I can’t say whether any particular chemical on Air Scent’s list is perfectly harmless or incredibly cancer-promoting.

Out of curiosity, I did type the names of about ten or fifteen different Air Scent International chemicals into the EPA’s CompTox Chemicals Dashboard. On the CompTox dashboard, you can explore hazard data and bioactivity information. Dashboard pages of some chemicals include extensive compilations of medical studies involving that chemical. Each time I dug into the EPA page for one of these fragrance chemicals, I did not like what I saw.

There is no reason a human being should have to breathe any chemicals while he or she shops in a store. Customers and employees of Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago deserve clean air. Goodwill ought to install commercial HEPA filtration in their stores, not micro-particle dispersal systems.

Demand Clean Air At Goodwill for Customer and Employee Health

From a health perspective, air fresheners have been associated with adverse effects, such as migraine headaches, asthma attacks, mucosal symptoms, infant illness, and breathing difficulties. . . Over 20% of the general US population report adverse health effects from air fresheners.

Science Direct

If you are a Goodwill employee, and you’ve been to the doctor to deal with health problems that began after you started working in the store, I’d consider calling a lawyer. If you are a Goodwill customer who believes you have the right to breathe clean air while you shop, I urge you to boycott Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago until they agree to remove their Scent Styler systems. At the very least, I urge everyone to start speaking up about the air at Goodwill. Let store managers know that you hate it, and that air fragrances are not clean air.

Note: I found Scent Styler machines in Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago stores. I have visited Goodwill stores in Indiana, Florida, and other states, and these stores did not have a heavy fragrance or a Scent Styler machine.

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