HealthDay News — Fragranced products such as soaps, candles, and air fresheners cause more than one-third of US adults to suffer ill health effects, including headaches, dizziness and breathing difficulties, according to research published online October 20 in Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health.1

Anne Steinemann, PhD, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Melbourne in Australia, surveyed 1,136 American adults online using a national random sample representative of age, gender, and region. Survey questions asked about the use of and exposure to fragranced products, both by choice and from others’ use, and health effects related to this exposure. 

Among other aspects, the survey also asked respondents about their preferences for fragrance-free environments and policies.

Dr Steinemann found that 34.7% of respondents reported health effects when exposed to fragranced products. The most common complaint was respiratory problems. But, the list also included migraine headaches; nasal congestion or sneezing; skin problems such as rashes; asthma attacks; and mental health problems such as difficulty thinking, concentrating, or remembering.

Of the respondents, 20.4% reported health problems when exposed to air fresheners or deodorizers, 23.6% reported such effects from being near someone wearing a fragranced product, and 12.5% said they suffered ill effects from scented laundry products vented outdoors. Losing workdays or a job due to fragranced product exposure was reported by 15.1%, and more than half (53.2%) would prefer fragrance-free workplaces, health care facilities, hotels, and airplanes.

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  1. Steinemann A. Fragranced consumer products: exposures and effects from emissions. Air Qual Atmos Health. 2016;9(8):861-866.