Air Fresheners cause Allergic Reactions



From today restaurants now have to declare any allergens in food on their menus. Supermarkets and other places that sell prepackaged food must also declare them. However, although foods and cosmetics must now warn you of potentially harmful and fatal allergens, there is one area that is completely a law to itself and unregulated!

I wrote the following letter to the BBC:

Dear Have Your Say

There is a certain irony in the news that restaurants have to declare allergens of food they serve – very helpful – but when you then use their toilet facilities you are likely to be sprayed with allergy causing chemicals from an automatic ‘air freshener’.

These ‘air fresheners’ produced by companies such as PHS are absolutely everywhere these days. They are known to contain allergy causing chemicals but unlike food and cosmetics are completely unregulated. I had an allergic reaction in a Tesco supermarket recently and the staff showed me the inner canister in our attempt to find information on its contents.

It carried the following advice:
Warning: May cause allergic reaction
And advised that it should only be used outdoors or in well-ventilated areas!

There are numerous reports (I can provide citable sources) of allergic reactions to ‘air fresheners’ that end up causing asthma and heart attacks. The parents of children developing asthma are advised to stop using plug in fragrance dispensers in their homes. Care homes have seen huge rises in respiratory complaints after ‘air freshener’ installations.

Why is it legal to pollute the air in toilets and not declare it, while illegal not to provide allergen declarations on food and cosmetics?

I may have the choice to plan ahead and now avoid ever using a Tesco or Costa Coffee toilet but in a place like Gatwick Airport, having passed through security unable to leave the airport, there is no choice.

Using a public loo for a fundamental need, where a PHS canister lurks on the wall automatically spewing out allergen-causing ‘fragrance’, does not just mean relieving myself, it also means risking an allergic reaction with potential anaphylactic shock and even death.

Kind regards
Monica Wilde

The PHS canister that caused the allergic reaction (apologies for the bad photos but it was hard to tea the at the time).

Here is a link to the Food Standards Agency directive on allergen declarations in food:

Here is a report of heart problems caused by Glade Air Freshener:


This is what an anaphylactic shock looks like.

The Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body

Courtesy of

Update 2019

Here are some links to news articles on the concerns which are starting to become public knowledge.

The Times: Clean air for all: Scientists call for pollution warning on air fresheners. May 2019

The Guardian: Cleaning products a big source of urban air pollution, say scientists. Feb 2018

Research shows paints, perfumes, sprays and other synthetic items contribute to high levels of ‘volatile organic compounds’ in air

Natural Products: Household chemical pollution could be “next diesel scandal”, doctors warn. May 2019


  1. James Williams

    I have the same problem. I dread going to public toilets because I have allergic reactions to the sprays. They trigger my asthma and make me feel very unwell. I love this blog post and I hope we can do more to remove them. They are a hazard.

      • So do I. I would like to discuss this issue with my local AM/MP/MEP. I plan on doing so when I have more time soon. 👍 Let’s keep raising the issue and sharing until positive change occurs.

  2. i have a problem with perfumes and air fresheners which causes problems at work – is there anything i can take to combat his

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