Are plug-in air fresheners that release fragrances harmful to children with asthma?

Board-certified allergist and immunologist Martha White, MD, of Wheaton, Maryland, says the majority of children with asthma will have no ill effects from air fresheners.

“By themselves, fragrances are not harmful,” Dr. White says. “However, some people with asthma and/or sinus problems may develop symptoms, such as shortness of breath or headaches.

“If your child’s asthma is triggered by odors, I recommend not using any scented products such as perfumes, cologne, scented soaps, hand lotions and hair products at home.”

It would certainly be “reasonable to inform teachers that scented products trigger a student’s asthma and request air fresheners not be used in the classroom,” Dr. White added.