Room fresheners can trigger allergies, worsen asthma

Last Updated: Nov 08, 2011, 14:22 PM IST

Washington: Use of room fresheners and scented candles can cause respiratory problems and worsen asthma, allergists have warned.

“This is a much bigger problem than people realize,” said Stanley Fineman, MD, ACAAI president-elect.

“About 20 percent of the population and 34 percent of people with asthma report health problems from air fresheners. We know air freshener fragrances can trigger allergy symptoms, aggravate existing allergies and worsen asthma,” he

Home fragrance products may smell “fresh,” but Dr. Fineman warned many of these products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are merely “covering up” —not eliminating—odours in the home.

VOCs commonly found in air fresheners include: formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, limonene, esters and alcohols.

Studies revealed that even VOC exposure levels below currently accepted recommendations increase risk of asthma in children.

High concentrations of VOCs can trigger eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, and even memory impairment.

Dr. Fineman noted a study of plug-in deodorizers that included more than 20 different VOCs with more than one third of those classified as toxic or hazardous.

“Products marketed as ‘all-natural’ or even those that are unscented can emit hazardous chemicals,” added Dr. Fineman.

The findings were presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in Boston, Nov 3-8.

ANI