WEDNESDAY, Nov. 2, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Lavender, lemon or lilac: Whatever the artificial aroma, more Americans are avoiding scented spaces and products, a new survey shows.
Fragranced products such as soaps, candles and air fresheners cause more than one-third of U.S. adults to suffer ill health effects, including headaches, dizziness and breathing difficulties, researchers said.
Surveying a nationally representative group of more than 1,100 Americans, the research team also found that more than 20 percent of people quickly leave a business place if they smell air fresheners or other scented products.
Led by Anne Steinemann, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Melbourne in Australia, the research is believed to be the first to examine many aspects of exposure to fragranced products and their effects in the United States.
“What I found was that half the reports of adverse health effects could be considered potentially disabling,” Steinemann said. “That’s astounding, since more than 99 percent of the population is exposed to these fragrances regularly.
“I call it secondhand scent,” she added. “But unlike cigarette smoke, which is one distinct product, this is much more pervasive. Fragrances are everywhere, in hundreds of different products, so it’s a huge problem that’s just exploding.”
Prior research found that common fragranced products — even those labeled “green” or “organic” — emit a range of hazardous air pollutants, the researchers behind the new study said.
Steinemann and her team surveyed more than 1,100 American adults online using a national random sample representative of age, gender and region.
Survey questions asked about the use and exposure to fragranced products, both by choice and from others’ use, and health effects related to this exposure. Among other aspects, the survey also asked respondents about their preferences for fragrance-free environments and policies.
Nearly 35 percent of respondents reported health effects when exposed to fragranced products. The most common complaint was respiratory problems. But, the list also included migraine headaches; nasal congestion or sneezing; skin problems such as rashes; asthma attacks; and mental health problems such as difficulty thinking, concentrating or remembering.
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