Fragrance ingredients used in perfume, personal care products, cleaning products, and air fresheners can trigger asthma. Fragranced products are used in many California workplaces and have been associated with over 350 cases of work-related asthma.
The Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program (WRAPP) has tracked hundreds of asthma cases associated with fragrances at work. These worker illnesses occurred in many indoor work settings like schools, hospitals, offices, and manufacturing. WRAPP found that perfume was the ninth most common exposure reported by people with asthma related to their work. Nearly a quarter of the cases associated with fragrances were new-onset asthma, meaning the workers reported no prior history of asthma.
Fragrances and Work-Related Asthma: Information for Employers (PDF) |
Spanish (PDF) |
Chinese (PDF) – fact sheets, 2017
Fragrances and Work-Related Asthma: Information for Workers (PDF) | Spanish (PDF) | Chinese (PDF) |
Korean (PDF) |
Tagalog (PDF) |
Vietnamese (PDF) – fact sheets, 2017
Volatile Chemical Emissions from Essential Oils with Therapeutic Claims – journal article abstract, 2020
Volatile Chemical Emissions from Car Air Fresheners – journal article abstract, 2020
Investigation into Potential for Employee Exposures to Essential Oils Used to Treat Patients at a California Surgery Center (PDF) – workplace investigation, 2019
Fragrances and Work-Related Asthma–California Surveillance Data, 1993–2012 – journal article abstract, 2017
Model Workplace Fragrance-Free Policy (Word) – model policy template that can be edited and customized for any workplace, 2015
New York State's Green Cleaning Program keeps a list of asthma-safer cleaning products without fragrance: (Under Product Category, choose "cleaning products." Click the "No" button next to the "Prefer products with fragrance" question)
Some cleaning products have earned the
U.S. EPA's Safer Choice Fragrance-Free label.