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Exposures and effects from fragranced consumer products in Germany


Fragranced consumer products—such as cleaning supplies, laundry products, perfumes, and air fresheners—have been associated with adverse human health effects and subsequent impacts in society. This study investigates effects associated with exposures to fragranced consumer products in Germany. Using a nationally representative population-based sample (n = 1102), data were collected in March 2019 using an online survey of adults in Germany. The study found that, across the German population, 19.9% report health problems, such as respiratory problems (55.3%), migraine headaches (25.1%), and asthma attacks (16.9%), when exposed to fragranced products. Of these reports of health effects, 33.8% could be considered potentially disabling. Further, 5.5% of the population have lost workdays or a job, in the past year, due to exposure to fragranced products in the workplace. A majority of Germans would prefer that workplaces, health care facilities and professionals, airplanes, and hotels were fragrance-free rather than fragranced. Results from this study provide new evidence that exposures to fragranced consumer products are associated with adverse health and societal effects among the German population, and that reducing exposures such as through fragrance-free policies could provide benefits.

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We thank the staff of Dynata (formerly Survey Sampling International) for their superb work. We also thank Nigel Goodman, Neda Nematollahi, and the anonymous referees for their thoughtful reviews of this manuscript.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Correspondence to Anne Steinemann.

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Steinemann, A., Klaschka, U. Exposures and effects from fragranced consumer products in Germany. Air Qual Atmos Health 12, 1399–1404 (2019).

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  • Fragranced consumer product
  • Fragrance
  • Fragrance-free policy
  • Health effects