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Fragranced consumer products: effects on autistic adults in the United States, Australia, and United Kingdom

TitleFragranced consumer products: effects on autistic adults in the United States, Australia, and United Kingdom
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsSteinemann A.
JournalAir Quality Atmosphere and Health
Date Published2018/12
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1873-9318
Accession NumberWOS:000448681600001
KeywordsASD; Autism; Autism spectrum disorder; Autistic; emissions; Environmental Sciences & Ecology; exposures; Fragrance; Fragranced consumer; Health effects; Indoor air quality; organic compounds; products; Volatile

Fragranced consumer products, such as cleaning supplies, air fresheners, and personal care products, can have adverse effects on both air quality and health. This study investigates the effects of fragranced products on autistic individuals ages 18-65 in the United States, Australia, and United Kingdom. Nationally representative population surveys (n = 1137 ; 1098; 1100) found that across the three countries, 4.3% of adults (n = 142) report medically diagnosed autism (2.3%), an autism spectrum disorder (2.4%), or both. Of these autistic adults, 83.7% report adverse health effects from fragranced products, including migraine headaches (42.9%), neurological problems (34.3%), respiratory problems (44.7%), and asthma attacks (35.9%). In particular, 62.9% of autistic adults report health problems from air fresheners or deodorizers, 57.5% from the scent of laundry products coming from a dryer vent, 65.9% from being in a room cleaned with scented products, and 60.5% from being near someone wearing a fragranced product. Health problems can be severe, with 74.1% of these effects considered potentially disabling under legislation in each country. Further, 59.4% of autistic adults have lost workdays or lost a job, in the past year, due to fragranced product exposure in the workplace. More than twice as many autistic as well as non-autistic individuals would prefer that workplaces, health care facilities, and health care professionals were fragrance-free rather than fragranced. Results show that vulnerable individuals, such as those with autism or autism spectrum disorders, can be profoundly, adversely, and disproportionately affected by exposure to fragranced consumer products.

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