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Your sweet-smelling air freshener may have a dirty secret

Here's a disturbing notion: Scented consumer products, like the Method-brand diffuser plugged into my living room wall, could be emitting much more than floral or woodsy aromas. New findings published in the journal Environmental Impact Assessment Review show a wide range of fragranced products, not just air fresheners, may contain chemicals not listed on packaging labels.

In the study (.pdf), researchers analyzed emissions from top-selling air fresheners, laundry products, cleaning supplies, soaps, lotions, deodorants and shampoos. Half of those tested made some sort of claim about being green, organic or natural, but as USA Today reports:

The study found that 25 of these products emit an average of 17 chemicals each, and of the 133 different chemicals detected, nearly a quarter are classified as toxic or hazardous under at least one federal law. It says 11 emitted at least one chemical listed as a probable carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It says only one compound - ethanol - was listed on any of the product labels.


Manufacturers are not required to list the ingredients used in fragrances even though a single scene can be a mixture of many. The Household Product Labeling Act, pending in the U.S. Senate, would require companies to disclose ingredients in air fresheners, soaps, laundry supplies and other consumer products.

The study was led by University of Washington researcher Anne Steinemann, PhD, who is currently a visiting professor in civil and environmental engineering at Stanford.

Via Science Daily

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