Toxic Effects of Air Freshener Emissions

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ABSTRACT.To evaluate whether emissions of a commercial air freshener produced acute toxic effects in a mammalian species, the authors allowed male Swiss-Webster mice to breathe the emissions of one commercial-brand solid air freshener for 1 h. Sensory irritation and pulmonary irritation were evaluated with the ASTM-E-981 test. A computerized version of this test measured the duration of the break at the end of inspiration and the duration of the pause at the end of expiration-two parameters subject to alteration via respiratory effects of airborne toxins. Measurements of expiratory flow velocity indicated changes in air-flow limitation. The authors then subjected mice to a functional observational battery, the purpose of which was to probe for changes in nervous system function. Emissions of this air freshener at several concentrations (including concentrations to which many individuals are actually exposed) caused increases in sensory and pulmonary irritation, decreases in airflow velocity, and abnormalities of behavior measured by the functional observational battery score. The test atmosphere was subjected to gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy, and the authors noted the presence of chemicals with known irritant and neurotoxic properties. The Material Safety Data Sheet for the air freshener indicated that there was a potential for toxic effects in humans. The air freshener used in the study did not diminish the effect of other pollutants tested in combination. The results demonstrated that the air freshener may have actually exacerbated indoor air pollution via addition of toxic chemicals to the atmosphere.

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