Migraine headaches and fragranced consumer products: an international population-based study


Fragranced consumer products, such as air fresheners and cleaning supplies, have been associated with health problems including migraine headaches. This study investigates the prevalence of migraines associated with exposure to fragranced products. Nationally representative population surveys (n = 4435) across four countries—the United States (US), Australia (AU), the United Kingdom (UK), and Sweden (SE)—found that, on average, 12.6% of adults report migraine headaches when exposed to fragranced products (15.7% US, 10.0% AU, 8.4% UK, 16.1% SE). Among those individuals, 43.2% report migraines from air fresheners or deodorizers, 15.0% from the scent of laundry products coming from a dryer vent, 39.9% from being in a room cleaned with scented products, 53.7% from being near someone wearing a fragranced product, and 45.7% from other types of fragranced products. Furthermore, 30.6% of these individuals have lost workdays or lost a job, in the past year, due to fragranced product exposure in the workplace. Findings from this study indicate that migraine headaches can be associated with fragranced consumer products, and that reducing exposure could reduce adverse health and societal effects.

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We thank the anonymous reviewers of this article and the staff of Dynata (formerly known as Survey Sampling International) for their superb work.


This research received support from Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program through the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, and CSIRO Land and Water.

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Correspondence to Anne Steinemann.

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Steinemann, A., Nematollahi, N. Migraine headaches and fragranced consumer products: an international population-based study. Air Qual Atmos Health 13, 387–390 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11869-020-00807-9

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  • Migraine
  • Headache
  • Fragranced consumer products
  • Fragrance