From: Paul Schaefer, ENN
Published September 26, 2007 02:23 PM

Hidden Hazards of Air Fresheners

Washington - Could the floral scent of your air freshener contain toxic chemicals known to cause birth defects? NRDC recently tested 14 different air fresheners and found that 12 contained chemicals called phthalates (pronounced thal-ates), chemicals that can cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects and reproductive problems. Even air fresheners marketed as "all-natural" or "unscented" contained the hazardous chemicals.

In addition to phthalates, air fresheners may contain allergens, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as well as cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde.

The air fresheners NRDC tested included aerosol sprays, liquids that emit a continuous scent, and a solid. Of the 14 products tested by NRDC, there was wide variation in the level of phthalates contained. Three of the 14 products had very high levels-more than 100 parts per million (ppm)-including products that ranged from 360 ppm to 7,307 ppm. Two products-Febreze Air Effects and Renuzit Subtle Effects-contained no detectable levels of phthalates.  (NRDC only tested one sample of each product, and more thorough testing is necessary to confirm the levels detected.)


In addition to phthalates, air fresheners may contain allergens, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as well as cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde.


Phthalates are found in a wide array of consumer products, including cosmetics and fragrances, pharmaceuticals, vinyl children's toys, automobiles and paints. Phthalates are known to interfere with production of testosterone and have been associated with reproductive abnormalities.

Pregnant women and children should avoid products that contain phthalates but because there are no labeling requirements it is virtually impossible for consumers to know which products may pose a risk.

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NRDC and other groups are petitioning the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission to ban hazardous phthalates in consumer products and require that manufacturers provide ingredients information on the label. Stronger regulations are needed to protect consumers. The EPA should require manufacturers to research and test the toxicity and health effects of inhaling chemicals from air fresheners.

Here's what you can do today to reduce your family's exposure to hazardous chemicals:

    * Freshen your air naturally by opening windows to bring in air and sunlight. Use fans to circulate the air throughout your home.
    * Check the list of air fresheners tested by NRDC and read the report to learn what the product label won't tell you.
    * NRDC and other groups are petitioning the EPA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to do more comprehensive testing and to

Source: NRDC

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