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Five Surprising Allergy and Asthma Triggers that Spoil Summer Fun (May 10, 2012)
Health Risks Greater for Asthmatic Baby Boomers over Age 60 (May 1, 2012)
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Six Tips to Ensure Allergies And Asthma Don't Ruin Holiday Cheer (December 2011)
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Research Highlights New Interventions, Recommendations for Controlling Allergies & Asthma in Children (November 5, 2011)
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Global Warming Extends Ragweed Allergy Season (July 28, 2011)
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Allergists Update Stinging Insect Guidelines (June 16, 2011)
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Spring allergy Sufferers: Be Wary of Treatment Myths, March 4, 2011
Most Americans Recognize Allergies are Serious, Don't Know Who Should Treat Condition
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Embargoed for Release                                      Contact: Ashley Mattys
November 6, 2011                                                         312-558-1770
                                                                                    amattys@pcipr.com
    
Unplug Indoor Pollutants For A Breath Of Fresh Air
Allergists say home fragrance products may cause respiratory problems 

BOSTON—Sales of home air fresheners and scented candles are on the rise and so are respiratory problems in homes where these products are used, according to allergists at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in Boston, Nov 3-8.

“This is a much bigger problem than people realize,” said Stanley Fineman, MD, ACAAI president-elect.  “About 20 percent of the population and 34 percent of people with asthma report health problems from air fresheners. We know air freshener fragrances can trigger allergy symptoms, aggravate existing allergies and worsen asthma.” 

Home fragrance products may smell “fresh,” but Dr. Fineman warns many of these products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are merely “covering up” —not eliminating—odors in the home.  VOCs commonly found in air fresheners include: formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, limonene, esters and alcohols.

Studies show that even VOC exposure levels below currently accepted recommendations increase risk of asthma in children.  High concentrations of VOCs can trigger eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, and even memory impairment. In his presentation, Dr. Fineman discusses a study of plug-in deodorizers that included more than 20 different VOCs with more than one third of those classified as toxic or hazardous.

Despite research showing some air fresheners contain VOCs at toxic or hazardous levels based on federal guidelines, the home fragrance industry is expected to see continued growth, reaching  $8.3 billion in global sales by 2015. So, why the fondness for air fresheners?

“There has been a shift among home fragrance consumers that pleasant smelling homes are not just for the holidays,” Dr. Fineman said.  “We also are seeing a trend by manufacturers to market these products as aromatherapy which implies health and mood-boosting benefits although there are no scientific studies to support these claims.”

For consumers who desire a fresh scent without the associated health risks,  Dr. Fineman recommends opening windows to let in Mother Nature rather than selecting products labeled “organic” or “green.”

“Products marketed as ‘all-natural’ or even those that are unscented can emit hazardous chemicals” said Dr. Fineman.  "The safest option is to avoid exposure to pollutants that air fresheners emit.”

While Dr. Fineman believes consumers need to be aware of what they are bringing into their homes, he also adds that allergists need to be vigilant about asking patients about exposure to scented products, and they need to keep this potential trigger on their radar.

Allergists have the training and expertise to treat more than just the allergy symptoms.  Those who suspect home fragrances may be triggering allergy symptoms, aggravating existing allergies or worsening asthma should see an allergist—a doctor who is an expert in diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma.  To learn more about allergies and asthma, take a free relief self-test or find an allergist near you, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

About ACAAI

The ACAAI is a professional medical organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill., that promotes excellence in the practice of the subspecialty of allergy and immunology. The College, comprising more than 5,000 allergists-immunologists and related health care professionals, fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research.

Follow the ACAAI annual meeting on Twitter at #ACAAI.

The ACAAI Press Room is located in Room 204 at the Hynes Convention Center, November 4 -7, 2011; phone 617-954-2665, media@acaai.org
  

 
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