Are there any environmentally friendly alternatives to aerosol spray dusters?

Are there any environmentally friendly alternatives to aerosol spray dusters?

—Troy Blakely, New York, NY

Artists, photographers and electronics technicians have long relied on aerosol spray dusters to carefully remove dust and fine particles from sensitive surfaces like paintings, film and computer hardware. An aerosol spray uses a propellant chemical, along with various other additives, to push clean air or a particular active ingredient out of the container. Until the late-1980s, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were the primary propellants used. However, CFCs were phased out worldwide after scientists discovered that they were helping to deplete the Earth’s ozone layer.

While makers of aerosol spray dusters don’t use CFCs anymore, they can put other potentially harmful hydrocarbons, such as methylene chloride, into their products. The Consumer Federation of America reports that many of the highly flammable substances used are carcinogenic. Some are also neurotoxic (harmful to nerve tissue) and contain chemicals that can damage one’s sense of smell.

Hydrocarbon-free alternatives are not that easy to come by, though one manufacturer, Advantus, makes a line of nontoxic, chemical-free and “ozone-safe” dusters for home and office. Some are refillable and are thus waste saving, too, and can be ordered from the company’s website. Several other companies, including Universal and Falcon, make spray dusters that use Earth-friendly propellants, but they are not chemical-free. Most are available at most office supply stores or online at

Those who rely on spray dusters can minimize their use by keeping the indoor environment as dust-free as possible. Frequent damp dusting and vacuuming are the best defenses against a dusty indoor environment. Clutter consisting of small objects and books make dusting more difficult—and all the more necessary. Routine air duct cleaning and frequent changing of furnace and air conditioning filters will also minimize the accumulation of dust in both homes and offices.

CONTACTS: Consumer Federation of America,, Advantus Corp.,;,