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Can the use of fragrances indoors cause health impacts?

Although many people report being adversely affected by fragrances, the issue remains controversial.

While some individuals may dislike a particular fragrance and may experience physical reactions from exposure to them, others exposed to the same fragrance may appreciate the smell or attribute health benefits to the exposure (e.g., aromatherapy).

There is also controversy among scientists as to whether the odor causing ingredients of some fragranced products actually ‘cause’ the adverse physical impact (e.g., triggering asthma episodes) experienced by some individuals or whether the adverse impact is caused by physiological, physical, chemical or emotional factors not directly related to the odor.

In spite of the controversy, EPA’s Indoor Environments Division (IED) understands that exposure to fragrances can cause some sensitive individuals to experience asthma episodes and other adverse health impacts and therefore notes this potential in several of their indoor air quality publications.

In addition, IED continues to monitor the research and works with our federal, state and local partners to provide up-to-date science-based information to the public on this and other indoor air quality issues.