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Last updated January 1, 2014

Chemicals in Air Fresheners Reduces Lung Function

Ivanhoe Medical Newswire, July 31, 2006

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- New research reveals a chemical compound found in many common deodorizing products, like air fresheners and toilet bowl cleaners, has a moderately harmful effect on a person's respiratory system.

Scientists from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) found harmful reactions to the functions of the pulmonary system when in proximity of the deodorizers. This is because these deodorants contain a volatile organic compound (VOC) called 1,4 dichlorobenzene (1,4 DCB), which is an irritant to the lungs.

"Even a small reduction in lung functions indicates some harm to the lungs," according to the lead NIEHS investigator, Stephanie London, M.D. "The best way to protect yourself, especially children who may have asthma or other respiratory illnesses, is to reduce the use of products and materials that contain these compounds."

The study was conducted among 953 adults ranging in age between 20 and 59 years. Data included both measures of VOCs in the blood and the pulmonary functions of participants.

Researchers found modest reductions of the pulmonary functions with the increased concentrations of VOCs in their blood.

The researchers took into account other possible exposures of 1,4 DCB such as wood fires, presence of furred pets, tobacco smoke and occupation. They also took into account whether the participants had asthma or emphysema.

As a summary to the research, NIEHS Director David A. Schwartz, M.D., reports, "1,4 DCB may exacerbate respiratory diseases."

This article was reported by, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to:

SOURCE: Environmental Health Perspectives, 2006;114:1210-1214

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