Happy Air Fresheners: Toxic Secrets Poster Child (2023)

Women's Voices for the Earth recently launched our campaign Glade: Stop Keeping Toxic Secrets.Learn more here.

Join us in asking Glade to keep hers
Fragrance ingredients are a secret!

Air purifiers seem to be becoming more and more popular in our society these days.a market analysispredicts home fragrance sales to reach $6 billion in 2012. I couldn't find exact sales figures for last year, but I have no doubt that's a surprisingly high number considering the number of air freshener units available in the US. supermarket shelves. Sprays, sprays, candles, plug-ins, oils, time releasers, each with dozens of different scents to choose from – the options are almost overwhelming.

"So what's the deal with all those scented air fresheners?" you ask. THAT is the problem: Fragrances can be made up of over 100 chemicals, most of which are synthetic, and some of these chemicals are harmful to our health.

Take, for example, these startling statistics (which I should point out are just one of the many, many studies I could cite on the effects of fragrance on our health):

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A UK study of 14,000 pregnant women showed an association between the use of air fresheners and sprays and increased headaches and depression in mothers and ear infections and diarrhea in their babies. In households that used air fresheners and sprays most days, women had 25% more headaches and 19% more postpartum depression than women in households that used these products less than once a week. Babies younger than six months exposed to air fresheners on most days had a 30% higher risk of ear infections and a 22% higher risk of diarrhea than babies exposed less than once a week[1]🇧🇷 While it's unclear which chemicals (or combination of chemicals) in air fresheners are responsible for these effects, the results of this study raise concerns about the safety and necessity of these products.

Let's emphasize that last scary phrase: we don't know which chemicals cause these serious health problems or which products contain them. That's because most companies keep their fragrances secret with an almost religious zeal. This is a big problem with air fresheners, where fragrances can represent 70 to 80% of the total product composition. That means we don't have information about the vast majority of chemicals in the product we spray in our homes.

Let's use a real-world example with an iconic product to illustrate this problem: Glade. Glade is a household name offering some of the most popular air purifiers on the market. But the makers of Glade are keeping the fragrance's ingredients under wraps, so we have no idea what Clean Linen or Lavender & Vanilla scent is like.

Which is ironic because SC Johnson, Glade's parent company, cannot emphasize enough how committed they are to "honesty" and "transparency". You may have seen the company's CEO, Fisk Johnson, on the TV screen talking about how the company discloses ingredients "down to the color and fragrance."and commercialSeems a little misleading to me. Here are just a few of his other quotes that emphasize that commitment:

"We know you value transparency and we are committed to sharing the ingredients in our products."

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"Today's families want to know what's in the cleaners and air fresheners they use in their homes."

"That's why we're disclosing all the ingredients... So you know what you're bringing to your home."

Except apparently when it comes to fragrances.

That's what the creators of Glade are ready to tell you. They've published a master list of nearly 1,500 chemicals they use in all of their fragrance products, but they don't say which chemicals are in which products.

We had a feeling you wouldn't want to delve into 1,500 chemicals, so we've curated a handful of chemicals from this massive, weight-heavy list we thought you should know about:

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  • Synthetic Musk: Potential hormone disruptors that are persistent and bioaccumulative and can weaken the body's defenses against other toxic stresses. These chemicals show up in our blood and breast milk.
  • The 26 allergens currently listed on SCJ product labels in the European Union (EU). SCJ does not list these allergens on product labels in the US because they are not required by law to do so.
  • Several additional allergens of EU concern.
  • Publicly available human safety data is not available for several chemicals of concern identified by an EU panel.
  • Terpenes, which can react with ground-level ozone in the air to form the cancer-causing formaldehyde.
  • Petroleum - the same compound as gasoline.

But SC Johnson doesn't tell us which products contain these chemicals? Seriously? WVE did some of our own detective work and tested some Glade products.Test resultsreveals synthetic musk and allergens. Test results also showed the presence of phthalates, which the company had wanted to eliminate two years earlier. SC Johnson claimed it was a contamination issue, but we have no confirmation that this issue has been resolved. Here's the thing: the lab only specifically tested these chemicals because we asked them to. Unfortunately, we don't have the money to go to a lab and say, "Tell us all about this perfume" (Of course, companies deconstruct other companies' perfumes all the time, but we don't have that kind of budget.)

Hiding seems to be the only reason companies don't tell us exactly what's in their fragrances, including SCJ. We know these companiesit has very advanced technologyThis allows them to recreate each other's scents, so threats to intellectual property and trade secrets can't really be the issue. And we know that there are companies like Seventh Generation that disclose all the ingredients without any apparent negative commercial impact. So really, what are these other companies hiding?

We believe we have a right to know what's in the products we bring into our homes, spray in the air we breathe, land on surfaces we touch, and collect in the dust that lands on our feet.

And we know that we are not alone in this belief: last month a study entitled Thinking about Consumption: Consumers and the Future of Sustainability was published. Brands:

Nearly 9 in 10 global consumers (86%) say "ingredient transparency is extremely or very important" that companies need to address as part of their products, services or operations, including 88% of consumers in emerging markets and 84% consumers in developed markets. 🇧🇷

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Guess who, along with other companies, sponsored this study? SC Johnson, creators of the Glade!

Seems like the SCJ should have heeded the advice they themselves asked for, don't you think?

And this study isn't the only proof that consumers want their fragrance ingredients to be clean. From WVE ourGlade: Stop Keeping Toxic SecretsCampaign, thousands of people asked SCJ to list all chemical fragrances through direct emails and on social media.

So let's summarize:

  • SC Johnson, creator of Glade, says it is committed to transparency. Oh yeah, except when it comes to telling us which fragrances are in which products.
  • Certain fragrances are harmful to our health.
  • SC Johnson has just sponsored a study showing that the incredibly large majority of consumers want to know what's in their products.
  • We told them directly that we wanted to know what was in the fragrances.

Seems like a pretty easy decision.

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Join Our Glade Campaign: Stop Keeping Toxic Secretsno Facebookthe one ofEmail the company here.

[1]Edwards, R. (1999). Far from smelling. New Scientist 2202, September 4, 1999.


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