Air Freshener Is a Contradiction in Terms

I just finished a book called The Curse of High IQ. The premise is that, because of the way standard deviations work, having an IQ of just 130 means that the daily activities and decisions of almost everyone around you are incomprehensible.

Let me give you an example.

The gym in my condo building is basically a large hotel gym. But, it’s a decent enough place to do some stretching and to work on a few exercises that don’t fit in an apartment.

One day about a year ago, I unlocked the gym door with my condo fob, took one step inside, and found myself on the receiving end of a low grade chemical weapons attack. An overpowering, sickening stench of air freshener fragrance caused my eyes to water, and my childhood asthma to return. I soon became lightheaded.

Air fresheners of every kind are among the most disgusting products made by man. You’d think they’re highly regulated, and therefore safe, but you’d be wrong on both counts. The chemicals contained in fragrances are not required to be listed on the label, and the federal government does not test air fresheners or require manufacturers to meet any specific safety standards. These chemicals cause cancer and disrupt the body’s hormone systems. They are particularly dangerous to children and developing fetuses.

My condo’s gym became unusable, at least from my high IQ perspective. For the first couple weeks, I’d prop an exterior gym door open with a weight plate to try and get some ventilation, but the air was still thick with fumes. When I spent just five minutes in there to use the counter for reverse hyperextensions, the scent would return home with me on my clothes, and it clung to my gym bag. On the other hand, fellow residents would come and go from the gym as if there was nothing out of the ordinary, running on the treadmills and taking deep breaths after pressing some weights. You could tell if the elevator was recently used by someone post-workout as the fragrance lingered in the cab. Running stairs

I realized over time that this air freshener fiasco was no fluke. It’s not like housekeeping accidentally dropped a canister of fragrance that exploded. Something intentional was happening that was not going to stop. I went to the management office to complain.

The administrator at the management office was friendly and knew exactly what I was talking about. The building’s management company had installed an industrial air freshener machine, something designed for a convention center space, in this modest exercise room. Why? Well, because they needed to cover up the smell of cigarette smoke that occasionally wafted in from an apartment down the hall.

Management never thought to improve the gym’s air flow, plug in a fan, or even send the resident to a smoking cessation program. Instead, the strategy was to take a gym filled with cigarette smoke and add on top of that some suffocating toxic chemicals.

I asked if they could shut it off. She said sure, the smoker had moved out months ago.

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