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Dangers of Air Freshener Products

Dangers of Air Freshener Products

Most of us want our homes to smell nice and clean. Is it really a good idea to use products to make your home smell like a beach breeze? Why would anybody want a home to smell like seaweed blowing in the wind?  Are the fragrances in our products really safe for us or our dogs? We use scented household products without any consideration that they could be health hazards. Most air freshener products contain phthalates (pronounced as tha-lates).

If you notice when you look at the ingredient labels of scented products, manufacturers put “fragrance” on the labels. This hides important information from consumers. Those specific ingredients are outside of the jurisdiction of regulatory agencies because of trade secret laws which allow manufacturers to hide those ingredients. This means that the FDA and other regulatory agencies are guaranteeing the safety of scented products without evaluation of ALL the ingredients. There SHOULD be something required on labels to notify consumers that not all ingredients are included in the determination of safety. The regulatory agencies are excluding those toxic ingredients from their evaluations as they protect corporations and manufacturers at the expense of trusting consumers.

freshener 2In general, the terms “unscented” and “fragrance-free” can be very confusing. “Unscented” means that the product doesn’t have a perfume-like scent. There can be masking fragrances added to cover up unappealing odors. “Fragrance -free” means that there are no synthetic fragrances in the product. If the product has a fragrance, it is due to the content of natural ingredients that have pleasant fragrances. Both “scented” and “unscented” products are associated with phthalates.

As long as there are toxic chemicals within the fragrance portion of the ingredients, consumers are on their own. It is angering that regulatory agencies are permitted to assure the safety of products when they are not evaluating the complete ingredients.  The state of California has identified 5 types of phthalates that are associated with hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems.

Di-ethyl Phthalate (DEP):
Di-n-butyl Phthalate (DBP):
Di-isobutyl Phthalate (DIBP):
Di-methyl Phthalate (DMP):
Di-isohexyl Phthalate (DIHP):

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) performed independent testing of 14 air fresheners for phthalates. Even products that were labeled as “all-natural” contained phthalates.  The testing results of phthalate concentration levels are shown below:

Highest Level: Ozium Glycol-ized Air Sanitizer, Walgreens Air Freshener, Walgreens Scented Bouquet Air Freshener, Walgreens Solid Air Freshener

Moderate Level: Air Wick Scented Oil, Glade Air Infusions, Glade PlugIn Scented Oil,
Febreeze NOTICEables Scented Oil, Oust Air Sanitizer Spray,

Trace Level: Citrus Magic, Lysol Brand II Disinfectant, Oust Fan Liquid Refills

Contained No Phthalates: Febreeze Air Effects Air Refresher, Renuzit Subtle Effects

Not only are air freshener products contain phthalates.  Scented candles, synthetic scented oils, carpet fresheners, and any products that contain synthetic scents which are labeled as “fragrance” on the ingredient label.

For more information, check out Protect Your Family from the Hidden Hazards in Air Fresheners published by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

To make your own homemade air freshener see my article Homemade Natural Air Freshener.


“Protect Your Family from the Hidden Hazards in Air Fresheners.” Natural Resources Defense Council. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 June 2014. <>.


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