Article of Interest: If You Can Smell Your Air Freshener, You Might Have a Problem

Our team at the Hoffman Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) Program at UT Health San Antonio wanted to share this important external article:

If you can smell your air freshener, you might have a problem” from The Washington Post.

Air fresheners mask unpleasant odors with vibrant scents, but they come with foul risks for human health.
Whether it’s an aerosol bottle, plug-in, oil, scented candle or gel, if a product promises to clear smells, chances are it harbors toxins that pollute indoor air quality. That’s because many air fresheners rely on chemicals to generate fragrances and make them linger in the air.

Reactions to air fresheners can worsen over time, according to Dr. Claudia Miller, allergist/immunologist, professor emeritus, and leader of the Hoffman TILT Program in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UT Health San Antonio.

“[Air freshener] chemicals can trigger first responders in the immune system called mast cells, which can cause allergic-like reactions, [Miller] says,” according to the article. “This can lead to inflammation, illness and a higher chemical intolerance after repeated exposures. Once the cells become sensitized to VOCs, it makes them more susceptible to be triggered by them.”

Read the full article.

How chemically sensitive are you?

Answer these three questions from Hoffman TILT’s Brief Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (BREESI):

  1. Do you feel sick when you are exposed to tobacco smoke, certain fragrances, nail polish/remover, engine exhaust, gasoline, air fresheners, pesticides, paint/thinner, fresh tar/asphalt, cleaning supplies, new carpet or furnishings? By sick, we mean: headache, difficulty thinking, difficulty breathing, weakness, dizziness, upset stomach, etc.
  2. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse or allergic reactions to any drugs or medications (such as antibiotics, anesthetics, pain relievers, X-ray contrast dye, vaccines or birth control pills), or to an implant, prosthesis, contraceptive chemical or device, or other medical/surgical/dental material or procedure?
  3. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse reactions to any foods such as dairy products, wheat, corn, eggs, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, or food additives (e.g., MSG, food dye)?

If you answer YES to any of these three questions, take the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI) and share the results with your doctor!