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Are air fresheners making you sick?

Posted May 04 2010 2:43am

Study finds toxic chemicals in air fresheners. But the ingredients aren't on labels and the health effects are unclear.

"The fumes that waft from top-selling air fresheners and laundry products contain dozens of chemicals, including several classified as toxic or hazardous, says a University of Washington study, writes Sandi Doughton of McClatchy-Tribune.

The study looked at dryer sheets, fabric softener, laundry detergent, a liquid spray air freshener, a plug-in air freshener and a solid disc deodorizer used in commercial-airplane toilets.

None of the chemicals was listed on product labels, nor does the federal government require companies to disclose ingredients in fragrances, said study author Anne Steinemann.

"I was surprised by both the number and the potential toxicity of the chemicals that were found," said Steinemann, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and public affairs.

The health effects of the chemicals are unclear, but Steinemann launched her analysis after years of fielding complaints from people who said air fresheners and other household products made them dizzy, left them short of breath or caused headaches, seizures or asthma attacks.

"After you hear about a hundred of these stories, you realize there's something going on," she said.

The report is the latest in a string of unsavory news reports about consumer products, from the presence of lead in children's toys to the discovery of hormone-disrupting compounds in plastics and baby lotions."

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