P.O. Box 40441, Providence, RI 02940

Tel. 401-351-9193, E-Mail:


(Sharing Information on Toxics in Everyday Life

& Providing Healthier Alternatives)



Chemical Sensitivities and Air Fresheners


The advertisements strive to make us feel that we need “air fresheners” in our homes, in the bathroom, kitchen and all around the house.  They come in aerosol sprays or the wick types that send out fumes constantly.  These products do not do anything to improve the quality of the air, in fact, they add a number of pollutants, some designed to deaden your sense of smell, others adding various kinds of toxic perfume to drown out whatever smells would offend.  A prominent constituent of many of these products is formaldehyde (which EPA says is a carcinogen), and sometimes even pesticides are included.  "Clean" does not have to have a "scent."  Alternatives?  Open windows and air the room/house or simmer lemons in water for a non-toxic fragrance. 


(“Air Fresheners or Air Poisoners?” - YOU decide! Multiple Chemical Sensitivity website, - March 2002)


The name "air fresheners" imply that they improve the quality of the indoor air and make it healthier to breathe.  However, the typical air freshener releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air and adds to the chemical mix of indoor air pollution.

(“Air Freshener Emissions Cause Toxic Health Effects,” Our Toxic Times, a publication of the Chemical Injury Information Network, July 1998).

Don’t use air fresheners, scented candles, potpourri, incense and the like.  They mask rather than remove odors.  Air fresheners actually pollute indoor air with such potential carcinogens as paradichlorobenzene and limonene; scented candles produce polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, like those produced by charbroiling).

Avoid mothballs. These also produce paradichlorobenzene and naphthalene fumes.  Air clothing that has been dry-cleaned outside if possible for 72 hours.  Vent bathrooms and don’t use “air fresheners” and deodorizers…

(“Tips for better indoor air,” UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, Feb., 1999)



For more TIPs on healthy alternatives to use of toxic products, contact:

Toxics Information Project (TIP), 401-351-9193,


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