One Spray too Many

They might make your space smell great, but are those plug in, turn on, spray away air fresheners really much more harmful than we realise?

Whilst we may use air fresheners to get rid of bad odours and replace with something more, palatable and pleasant, there is growing concern around the chemicals that are used, and the effect that they potentially have on people. There are several chemicals in the air fresheners that we buy in the supermarket, whether they be the plug-in-and-leave variety or the aerosol versions used as required. At many different concentrations, the exposure to emissions from air fresheners causes an increase in pulmonary and sensory irritation, and reductions in the velocity of airflow. Breathing rate can become irregular and the amount of air inhaled can be affected by exposure to the emissions from air fresheners.

As well as direct exposure to the spraying of the odour neutraliser, there is a chemical known as Pthalates found in air fresheners, which can have a negative affect on people’s health. Pthalates primarily result in reproductive issues in some individuals, and can cause infertility or malformations in reproductive tracts in both men and women. It has also been shown to cause birth defects in infants.

So next time you reach for that vanilla scented spray at the supermarket…think again!
Consider natural based products or candles instead.

Written by Myra Berry

Anderson, R. C. & Anderson, J. H. (1997). Toxic Effects of Air Freshener Emissions. Archives of Environmental Health: An International Journal, 52(6), 433 – 441. doi: 10.1080/00039899709602222.

Living Safe. (2017). Synthetic Air Fresheners Are Actually Poisoning Us. Retrieved from

Walsh, J. (2009). PHTHALATES. The National Academies in Focus, 8(3), 12. Retrieved from