At the inaugural Household & Commercial Products Association (HCPA) Air Care Summit, multidisciplinary experts came together to share and assess the science behind air fresheners.  The Summit focused on reviewing the body of science related to Air Care products, including ingredients, and having an outside, independent science advisory panel (SAP) weigh in on both the merits and limitations of existing research.  The SAP included academic and medical experts in toxicology, inhalation science, pediatrics, pulmonology medicine, psychology and fragrance research. The goal of this effort is to help consumers make informed decisions about the Air Care products they use in their homes every day.

Trust in consumer products, including air fresheners, has diminished. The growing skepticism is fueled by an increase in social sharing and access to multiple, and often times unsubstantiated, sources of information and assumptions not backed by sound science and research.

“As stewards of the household and commercial products that help consumers and workers to lead cleaner, healthier and more productive lives, HCPA and its members will continue to proactively conduct and share credible science, as well as correct misinformation related to household and commercial products and their ingredients,” said Steve Caldeira, HCPA President and CEO. “This is the first time we have brought together medical, scientific and industry experts to consider the years of research in such a transparent setting.”

In this first-of-its-kind Summit, the SAP heard from multidisciplinary experts who presented peer reviewed research that supports the benefits of fragrance and malodor removal and the ability of Air Care products to improve the quality of life for consumers and workers.

“Smell is one of the most powerful senses a person has. Years of research have shown fragrance can positively impact mood and behavior. Malodor, on the other hand, drives a number of negative outcomes, both emotional and physical. Air Care products, with their ability to remove malodor and replace it with fragrance, help people retain a better quality of life,” said SAP member Pamela Dalton, Ph.D., M.P.H., Monell Chemical Senses Center.

SAP members also reviewed safety data related to Air Care products and ingredients.  Based on the body of science, the SAP concluded that there are multiple areas where misinformation should be addressed with more factual information.  As an example, while consumer product companies take care to develop products that are both effective and safe for consumers and workers when used as directed, there is a pervasive perception that these products cause asthma.  Experts in the field disagree.

“A link between development of asthma and exposure to air fresheners cannot be established based on current studies,” said SAP member Mark J. Utell, M.D., University of Rochester Medical Center, Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care. “Available data simply lacks the necessary product specificity to establish causation or an association and bears further investigation. I applaud the Task Force for collaborating to discuss future research directions in this important area.”

The HCPA Air Care Summit brought together scientists and medical experts from Monell Institute for Chemical Senses, the University of RochesterBrown University, the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and the University of Minnesota.

Companies that underwrote and planned the Summit include The Procter & Gamble Company, Arylessence, Inc., Symrise, Inc., Bell Flavors & Fragrances, Inc., Henkel Consumer Goods, Inc., The Clorox Company, Mast Global / L Brands, Inc., Givaudan Fragrance Corp., SC Johnson, and Reckitt Benckiser.

The Summit and SAP discussion proceedings will be published to help disseminate the scientific information.  Additionally, the SAP will help identify future opportunities for information sharing and research relating to the safety and benefits of Air Care products.


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