Febreze, the Breeze in the Air

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CLOSED 10/23/13


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80+ Chemicals Detected in Febreze Air Effects 

by Patrick Anthony Pontillo

New Zealand Springs
New Zealand Springs (Photo credit: Brandon Koger)

Febreze Air Effects is showcased as a technologically advanced odor eliminator that will get you breathe happilyas if it were happy pills in aerosol form, health food in a spray, and an encapsulating cleaning product that smothers odors, making them disappear.  In fact, Febreze was even heralded as being phthalate-free.

Enter the 501(c) non-profit charity known as the Environmental Working Group, aka the EWG.  Its stated mission is that of using the power of public information, in order to protect public health and the environment.  Its team comprises scientists, engineers, data analysts, and lawyers.  In fact, its board comprises a number of reputable names.  One of the EWG projects was that of analyzing the contents of Febreze Air Effects Hawaiian Aloha.   According to the scientists, it was nothing more than a cauldron of chemicals.

If and only if the EWG findings are correct, at least one Febreze product is
injurious in a number of quantitative ways, especially to those suffering from
any one of a number of reactive respiratory or skin diseases.  In addition, if
and only if the findings of a Quebecois scholastic project were correct, then
Febreze in general is surprisingly injurious.

The cast of characters detected by EWG scientists in Febreze Air Effects Hawaiian Aloha include chemicals listed as:  1}  Genotoxins & Mutagenic chemicals, 2) Bronchoconstrictors & Irritants, 3} Oxidative chemicals that produce allergenic compounds upon being exposed to air. 4} Neurotoxins, 5} Reproductive Toxins, 6} Indoor air pollutants,  7} the Hepatotoxic Class (liver cell killers,)  8} Cell-mediated allergens which produce skin reactions.

Smells like a dude! | [Day 15/365]
Smells like a dude! | [Day 15/365] (Photo credit: rocknroll_guitar)

The results according to the Environmental Working Group:

If and only if the report of the Environmental Working Group analysis is correct, and if and only if the Febreze ingredient formula remained unchanged since the EWG report’s publication, the following applies:

Eighty-seven chemicals were detected in Air Effects Hawaiian Aloha, along with water.  The 89th ingredient was regarded as Fragrance.  But, fragrance is actually a mixture of molecular compounds.  Thus, it’s more proper to re-
gard Febreze Air Effects Hawaiian Aloha as an 87-chemical product.  Only three Febreze ingredients were disclosed on the label by name.  The other ingredients were labeled under the titles “quality control ingredients” or fragrance, meaning that their identities were hidden from the public.  There was one propellant, incidentally.

In addition, keep in mind that, in the United States, the safety of any chemical does NOT have to been proven, in order for it to used as an ingredient in any household product.  Also in America is the law popularly called, “Trade Secret Law.”  Such a law does NOT require companies to reveal their product line ingredients on their products’ labels.  Of course, this ever so conveniently hides from the public the reality of what it ingests and inhales.

Note, however, that cyclodextrine (the Febreze fragrance) is a patent and not subject to the “Trade Secret Law.”

The Chromosome Chain Breaker 

Concerning Febreze’s Mutagenic chemical, 1,3-Dichloro-2-Propanol, it’s classified as a Clastogen.  Clastogens break chromosome chains.

Below is an outline of the ingredients Americans are purchasing, every time they rush to a store, to get Hawaiian Aloha Air Effects sprayed throughout their houses, taxi cabs, houses, apartments, offices, reception areas, storage areas, classrooms, dance floors, shops, and automobiles … and ultimately, in order for Febreze to reach their respiratory tracts, livers, pancreases, brains,
and other vital organs.

The Provider of Interleukin 6, the Inflammation Inducer

1] 2-ethyl-hexanol.  This chemical is a news article unto itself, in that it has been categorically identified as an indoor air pollutant which was found to activate a type of white blood cell which, in turn, produces a major inflammatory mediator, called Interleukin 6.  In as much, CD4+cells are activated by 2-ethyl-hexanols.  In sequence, 2-ethyl-hexanol has been implicated in the development of Building-related Illness, aka Sick Building Syndrome.  This Febreze ingredient is a menace.  In fact:

It has been reported that the number of people suffering from occupational asthma and skin rashes triggered by various chemicals in indoor air have increased markedly.  

Two-ethyl-hexanol (2-EH) is known to be an indoor air pollutant and its influence on health is of great concern.

 See:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19038237

Febreze (Photo credit: StarsApart)

Asthma symptoms may be related to increased humidity in concrete floor constructions and emission of 2-ethyl-1-hexanol, an indicator of dampness-related alkaline degradation of plastici-
ser DEHP.

Now, it’s important for you to know that DEHP is a phthalate that comes from Febreze ingredient, 2-ethyl-1-hexanol.  The offshoot chemical is Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate.  The pertinence to this is that Febreze was showcased as a phthalate-free product.

See:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20146997

 The Hangover Chemical and Airway Obstructor

2] Acetaldehyde.  This is the hangover chemical in excessive alcohol consumption.  It happens to be recognized as a cancer risk to the upper digestive tract.  Now, as far as concerns its presence in any artificial fragrance product, it obstructs the airways.  See: Airway obstruction induced by inhaled acetaldehyde in asthma.


Death at 180 Parts Per Million and Above

Morgan defending Febreze
Morgan defending Febreze (Photo credit: aarontait)

3] Benzyl Acetate.  Produces respiratory tract irritation.  The continued exposure to ambient levels of this compound at 50 parts per million will cause kidney damage.  Cats have died from this, at 180 parts per million.


A Suspect in Pancreatic Cancer Induction

According to the University of Berkley, Benzyl Acetate is linked to pancreatic cancer, in addition to it being a respiratory irritant.  See:  www.ehow.com/list_6130016_chemicals-found-fabric-softeners.html

Automotive Additives and one Plasticizer

4] Hexadecane.  This is known as cetane, a diesel fuel additive. 5] Trimethyl  Pentanyl  Diisobutyrate.   A nail polish plasticizer.  6] Diethylene Glycol Monoethyl Ether.  An anti-freeze additive.

 A Literal Triple Threat to Health

7] Dichlorohydrin, also known as 1,3-Dichloro-2-Propanol and 1,3-DCP.   Carcinogenic, Hepatotoxic, and Genotoxic.  In fact, Dichlorohydrin was clearly shown through scientifically valid testing according to generally accepted principles to cause cancer.  EVIDENCE ON THE CARCINOGENICITY OF 1,3-     Dichloro-2-Propanol (1,3-DCP; α,γ-Dichlorohydrin)

See:  oehha.ca.gov/prop65/hazard_ident/pdf_zip/13dcp.pdf 

As was previously mentioned, Dichlorohydrin has been found to cause liver damage, commensurate with the level of exposure to it.  For example, a 34 year old man suffered from fulminant hepatitis after cleaning a tank in which there were traces of dichlorohydrin.  In spite of daily plasma exchanges, he died 10 days after exposure.  A 27 year old man with much lighter exposure showed only slight liver dysfunction.

See:  http://het.sagepub.com/content/13/4/267.abstract

As far as goes this Air Effects ingredient being a mutagen, it’s specifically classified as a clastogenic chemical.  As a review, a clastogenic chemical literally causes breaks in chromosome chains.  Genotoxicity of 1,3-dichloro-2-propanol in the SOS chromotest and in the Ames test.   Elucidation of the geno-toxic mechanism.

See:   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1913979

Poison Roulette.  Pick your additive.

 8] Denatured Alcohol, aka methylated spirits.   This is ethanol mixed with a poisonous additive that makes the alcohol unable to be consumed without extremely ill effects.   Originally, it was 10% methanol (CH3OH.)  Today, denatured alcohol might con-
tain methyl denatonium benzoate, methyl isobutyl ketone, ethyl ketone, acetone, denatonium benzoate.  Protector & Gamble’s people think nothing of you spraying this in a home of children, asthmatics, and pets.

The hazard symbol for irritating (Xi) substanc...
The hazard symbol for irritating (Xi) substances according to directive 67/548/EWG by the European Chemicals Bureau. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Oxidizing Terpene

9] Linalool.  A terpene that easily oxidizes.  Oxidized linalool is a
skin sensitizer.  When exposed to air, it readily forms allergenic
products.  It is recognized by experts as something that greatly 
contributes to fragrance allergy which emphasizes the need 
of testing with compounds that patients are actually exposed to and not only with the ingredients originally applied in commercial formulations.  Spraying Febreze, therefore, yields more chemicals than are in the canister, bottle, etc.   

 See:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19125719

 Bronchial Hyperresponsiveness in Spray Form

10] Limonene.  “Bronchial hyperresponsiveness was related to indoor concentrations of limonene.”  It tortures susceptible
persons, otherwise known as people who are atopic.  See:
Asthmatic symptoms and volatile organic compounds,  formaldehyde, and carbon dioxide in dwellings


Limonene is also a contact allergen of the terpene family.  This means that, upon being exposed to air, limonene produces the allergenic substance that effects the skin, in addition to it being an assault upon the respiratory tracts of atopic persons.

We continue with more ingredients detected by the EWG …

11] Alpha-pinene.  It’s a confirmed allergen.   See:  Gas chromatography:  an investigative tool in multiple allergies to essential oils.


12] Butylated Hydroxytoluene.  This food additive happens to be a well established asthma trigger for a subset of asthmatics.  This is BHT.

13] Benzothiazole.  Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis showed this to be one of four most toxic chemicals in artificial turf.  http://www.ehow.com/about_6165648_artificial-turf-asthma.html

14] Cyclamen Aldehyde.  This is member of the Formaldehyde family; Light yellow to colorless in appearance.  Refer tohttp://www.archive.org/stream/formaldehydeando003763mbp/formaldehydeando003763mbp_djvu.txt

15] Geraniol.   A well established B-cell mediated allergen and the primary ingredient in Java type citronella oil.  This is a contact allergen, even through airborne contact.  See:  CytochromeP450-mediated activation of the fragrance compound       geraniol forms potent contact allergens.


16] Methylpyrrolidone.  In Europe, Methylpyrrolidone is regarded as a reproductive toxicant.   It is also an irritant, meaning that it will make Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome patients fight to get a full breath, for as long as they are exposed to it.

17] Alpha-Ionone.  Respiratory sensitizer and skin sensitizer, meaning that it’s something to which a person can become allergic, in repeated exposure thereof.  It’s also an irritant, meaning that person can have an adverse reaction to it without first developing an allergy to it.


18]  Butylphenyl Methylpropional.  This is Lilial, a known sensitizer (an allergen that has the power to make you become allergic to it.)  It’s also known as Lilialdehyde, a member of the formaldehyde family.  As well as being used as a powerful fragrance,
it’s also an intermediate for the agrochemical synthesis.  See:  Identification of Lilial as a fragrance sensitizer in a perfume by bioassay-guided chemical fractionation and structure activity relationships.


19] Fragrance.  This is actually a mixture of ingredients, and not an ingredient unto itself.  None the less, it’s pertinent to note that the EWG’s Further Toxic Concern for “fragrance” is “Neurotoxicity, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Miscellaneous.”

As is cited elsewhere on this site, fragrance is a medically recognized trigger of flare-ups in Asthma, Rhinitis, Sinusitis, Urticaria, and Dermatitis, as well as flare-ups in Vocal Cord Dysfunction Syndrome,  Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome, and Small Airways Disease.  Furthermore, the twenty most common chemicals found in 31 tested fragrance products are listed at the following web page:


Febreze:  NOT an odor eliminator.  Rather, it’s an odor adder.

A noticeable piece of false advertising exists in Proctor & Gamble calling Febreze an odor eliminator.  Febreze, in its 87 chemicals, emits a multiplicity of chemical aromas.  This means that Febreze floods the air with odors, rather than eliminates them.

Its glut of aromatic chemicals serves the function of maskers, hiding the preexisting odors which remain with decomposing and volatile material.  Therefore, kitchen trash will still emit odors, no matter what quantity of Febreze is sprayed.  Mold-ridden indoor areas will continue to emit micotoxins, and smoke-damaged property won’t experience any change in its physical properties, either.  This means that Febreze doesn’t have the power to suspend the law of Conservation of Mass.  Febreze is simply a chemically-laden diversionary tactic that overwhelms the senses and drowns-out preexisting odors.  It’s a con game.

Febreze Downy_002
Febreze Downy_002 (Photo credit: TAKA@P.P.R.S)


The added consideration is something known as the bio-accumulative effect … the effect of repeated exposure to the 87 chemicals.  Such a
thing, in part, is an element of Pharmacology.  The other part is allergy development.  In as much, a chemical ingredient originally not harmful can become very harmful, via repeated exposure.

Adjuvant Effect

Concerning the pharmacological aspect, there is the matter of Adjuvant Effect.  This is when a couple of chemicals team-up to cause harm.

Pharmacological Effect

The hazard symbol for highly toxic substances ...
The hazard symbol for highly toxic substances according to directive 67/548/EWG by the European Chemicals Bureau. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is additionally the matter of one chemical being consumed by the body causing another chemical’s level in the same body to be elevated, as if the triggering chemical were a cue ball.  The classical example of this type of pharmacological reaction is the organophosphate category of pesticide.  Its presence elevates the level of acetylcholine in the lungs.

Oxidation Effect

There is also the oxidation effect in this falsely advertised product, at
least with the terpenes in Febreze.  Very simply, exposing an oxidative
chemical to the air will result in the formation of allergenic substances.
Such is the case with the fragrance ingredients Linalool and Limonene.
That is to say, spraying Febreze causes the formation of chemicals in
addition to what was put into Febreze at the factory.

Exorbitantly gaudy levels of chemical spray products,
when used by those with Deadened Senses.

Enter those members of the elderly who never achieved discipline, in this hedonistic age.  These are the pathological pleasure seekers.  Concerning them, realize the following pattern  The elderly are known to crank up the volume on a radio and blow out everyone else’s ears in the process.  Elderly women, unaware of how addicted to chemicals
they have been, are known to crank up the volume on the chemically-laden fragrance products, thereby suffocating any nearby asthmatic.
Thus, the legacy that the vain leave behind is s-u-f-f-o-c-a-t-i-o-n.

Why would you want to make your home, workplace, auto, meeting hall, waiting room, or rec room a toxic waste dump?

In light of all the chemicals in Febreze, if you do use this product, you are doing nothing more than contaminating your home, your motor vehicle, your taxi cab, your apartment, your office, your store.  In addition, if you happen to have an asthmatic neighbor,
you are suffocating that person out of house and home.  Should your store, taxi cab, office be visited by an asthmatic reactive to chemicals, be prepared … eventually … to hire a member of the U.S. federal bar association who is versed in the Americans with Disabilities Act.  This includes persons with other types of respiratory disease, such as Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome.

Now, autism has been statistically linked to the presence of certain chemical classes and pesticide types.  Therefore, it is advisable to keep Febreze away from developing children, as well as people with allergic dermatitis and respiratory disease. 

Febreze Air Effects Additionally Contains the Following, according to the Environmental Working Group, as of 2011:


Note:   There were more chemicals found in Febreze Air Effects than what has been posted above.


Updates of Febreze include the following:



Environmental Working Group
Environmental Working Group (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Summary:  Below you’ll find a list of just some of the 87 chemicals found by the EWG in Febreze Air Effects, listed in order of their toxicity to humans:

  • BHT – Known as a neurotoxin, endocrine disruptor, immunotoxicity, non-reproductive organ system toxicity, skin eye and lung irritator
  • Acetaldehyde – Known to cause cancer, toxic to reproduction and development, immunotoxin, non-reproductive organ system toxin, skin, eye and lung irritator
  • “Fragrance” – One of the three ingredients actually disclosed, it’s a neurotoxin, immunotoxin and allergen
  • Propylene Glycol – Causes cancer, allergies, toxic to immune system, accumulates in the system, non-reproductive organ system toxin, is classified with “enhanced skin absorption” and irritates the skin, eye and lung
  • 1,3-Dichloro-2-propanol – Carcinogenic (causes cancer)
  • Limonene – Allergen, immunotoxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator
  • Methyl pyrrolidone – Toxin to reproduction and development, allergen and immunotoxin, non-reproductive organ system toxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator
  • Alcohol denatured – Also disclosed in the ingredients of Febreze, it’s linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity and skin, eyes and lung irritator
  • Butylphenyl methylpropion al – allergen, immunotoxin and and skin, eyes and lung irritator
  • Ethyl acetate – linked to developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, organic system toxicity and and skin, eyes and lung irritator
  • Geraniol – Linked to allergies, immunotoxicity, organi system toxicity and and skin, eyes and lung irritation
  • Linalool – allergen, immunotoxin, and and skin, eyes and lung irritator
  • Benzaldehyde – neurotoxin, and skin, eyes and lung irritator
  • Diethylene glycol monoethyl ether – non-reproductive organ system toxicity
  • Ethylhezanol – developmental and reproductive toxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator
  • Hexyl cinnamal – allergen, immunotoxin and skin, eyes and lung irritator

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From a Yellow Canary of the 21st century, living in our disabling biosphere

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