The fragrance industry and makers of air fresheners strongly object to statements by Dr. Stanley Fineman about the safety of fragranced products. The International Fragrance Association North America (IFRANA), The Research Institute for Fragrance Materials, Inc. (RIFM), and the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) cite poorly supported science and weak epidemiological evidence for the statements issued. There is no definitive scientific evidence, clinical or otherwise, to prove that fragrance materials cause asthma, nasal congestion, sneezing, or runny nose. [1,2]. In fact, Dr. Fineman in recent media interviews admitted himself “..there is not necessarily an increase in allergies to any of the compounds in fragrance products, but that products such as air fresheners, scented candles, plug-in deodorizers and wick diffusers seem to be used much more often.”
Cold air, dry air, and almost any aroma can trigger various respiratory symptoms in different individuals. Some individuals may experience respiratory sensitivity to certain materials in the environment, both natural and man‐made. People who experience such sensitivity to consumer products can choose to avoid using the products. It is irresponsible to assign blame to popular consumer products without supporting scientific evidence.
The safety of fragrances marketed today is based on clinically proven, scientific studies reviewed by an independent panel of experts, published in the highest level, peer-reviewed, scientific journals available to anyone and ratified by government agencies around the world. The one study Dr. Fineman referenced is a flawed 2009 study based on telephone conversations with a small population—no laboratory, no measurements or diagnosis by a physician, just opinions. Ascertaining chemical sensitivity based on perceived hypersensitivity that is not validated with reproducible empirical test data is irresponsible medical science. From an epidemiological perspective, this particular study lacked the statistical power to bear any weight on a potential causative factor for a reaction and was previously criticized in scientific literature.  The fragrance industry welcomes scientific dialogue, but insists on real science and fact-based consumer education and medical advice.
Consumers can be assured that the fragranced air fresheners they use in their homes are safe when used according to label instructions.
- Clearing the Air: Asthma and Indoor Air Exposures Committee on the Assessment of Asthma and Indoor Air, Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy Press, Wash, D.C., p.248. “patients were challenged with methacholine, perfume (with and without a nose clip to block smell perception), and a placebo. They found no changes in lung function after the perfume provocation, although all of the patients were very sensitive to provocation with methacholine.
- The American College of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) does not list fragrances on their web page of common asthma triggers http://www.acaai.org/allergist/asthma/asthma-triggers/Pages/default.aspx.
- Fragranced Products and VOCs M Singal, et al., MAY 2011 volume 119 | number 5, A200
The International Fragrance Association North America (IFRA North America) represents the fragrance materials industry in the United States and Canada. IFRA North America member companies create and manufacture perfumes and fragrances for personal care, home care, and home design products. Companies that supply fragrance ingredients, such as essential oils and other raw materials, are also IFRA North America members. www.ifrana.org
Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) is the international scientific authority for the safe use of fragrance materials. RIFM generates, evaluates and distributes scientific data on the safety assessment of fragrance raw materials found in personal and household care products. Through extensive research, testing and constant monitoring of all scientific literature available, RIFM maintains its Database as the most comprehensive source worldwide of physical-chemical, toxicological and eco-toxicological data associated with known fragrance and flavor materials. All of RIFM’s scientific findings are evaluated by an independent Expert Panel—an international group of dermatologists, pathologists, toxicologists, reproductive, respiratory and environmental scientists. The Expert Panel evaluates the safety of fragrance ingredients under conditions of intended use and publishes their results in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The decisions of the Expert Panel regarding restrictions of use are also published in the IFRA Standards. For more information about RIFM and its activities, visit www.rifm.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) is the premier trade association representing the interests of companies engaged in the manufacture, formulation, distribution and sale of more than $80 billion annually in the U.S. of familiar consumer products that help household and institutional customers create cleaner and healthier environments. CSPA member companies employ hundreds of thousands of people globally. Products CSPA represents include disinfectants that kill germs in homes, hospitals and restaurants; candles, and fragrances and air fresheners that eliminate odors; pest management products for home, garden and pets; cleaning products and polishes for use throughout the home and institutions; products used to protect and improve the performance and appearance of automobiles; aerosol products and a host of other products used every day. Through its product stewardship program, Product Care®, and scientific and business-to-business endeavors, CSPA provides its members a platform to effectively address issues regarding the health, safety and sustainability of their products. For more information, please visit www.cspa.org.