P.O. Box 40441, Providence, RI 02940

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


(Sharing Information on Toxics in Everyday Life

& Providing Healthier Alternatives)



Toxic Effects of Air Freshener Emissions

Arch Environ Health 1997 Nov-Dec; 52(6):433-41, Anderson RC, Anderson JH

Anderson Laboratories, Inc., West Hartford, Vermont 05084, USA.


To evaluate whether emissions of a commercial air freshener produced acute toxic effects in a mammalian species, the authors allowed male Swiss-Webster mice to breathe the emissions of one commercial-brand solid air freshener for 1 h.  Sensory irritation and pulmonary irritation were evaluated with the ASTM-E-981 test.  A computerized version of this test measured the duration of the break at the end of inspiration and the duration of the pause at the end of expiration--two parameters subject to alteration via respiratory effects of airborne toxins. Measurements of expiratory flow velocity indicated changes in airflow limitation.


The authors then subjected mice to a functional observational battery, the purpose of which was to probe for changes in nervous system function.  Emissions of this air freshener at several concentrations (including concentrations to which many individuals are actually exposed) caused increases in sensory and pulmonary irritation, decreases in airflow velocity, and abnormalities of behavior measured by the functional observational battery score.  The test atmosphere was subjected to gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy, and the authors noted the presence of chemicals with known irritant and neurotoxic properties.  The Material Safety Data Sheet for the air freshener indicated that there was a potential for toxic effects in humans.  The air freshener used in the study did not diminish the effect of other pollutants tested in combination.  The results demonstrated that the air freshener may have actually exacerbated indoor air pollution via addition of toxic chemicals to the atmosphere.


Subject: Air freshener toxicity

"Toxic effects of air freshener emissions; Rosalind Anderson Ph.D. and Julius Anderson M.D.-Ph.D. Archives of Environmental Health (1997) 52: 433-441. Air freshener emissions caused irritation of the eyes and lungs of mice. The mice also developed difficulty breathing (asthma-like attack) and signs of neurotoxicity such as loss of balance, tremors, and convulsions. Several of the mice died as a result of the exposure."
Anderson Labs, Box 323, West Hartford, VT 05084.

Dear Readers: The Andersons have peer-reviewed documents available, as well as videos of the mice and their adverse reactions. Visit their website to learn more about their documents. Write to them at the above address, or phone: 1.802.295.7344, or email:


For more TIPs on everyday toxics and healthier alternatives, contact:

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


return to menu