The California Department of Public Health’s Information About Fragrance and Work-Related Asthma


The California Department of Public Health website contains some useful information about fragrances and work-related asthma that can be accessed through this URL:


The page you will reach begins with this statement:

Fragrance ingredients used in perfume, personal care products, cleaning products, and air fresheners can trigger asthma. Fragranced products are used in many California workplaces and have been associated with over 300 cases of work-related asthma.

The Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program (WRAPP) has tracked hundreds of asthma cases associated with fragrances at work. These worker illnesses occurred in many indoor work settings like schools, hospitals, offices, and manufacturing. WRAPP found that perfume was the ninth most common exposure reported by people with asthma related to their work. Nearly a quarter of the cases associated with fragrances were new-onset asthma, meaning the workers reported no prior history of asthma.


On that page clicking on the publications for “Fragrances and Work-Related  Asthma for Employers” or “Fragrances and Work -Related Asthma for Workers” will take you to a page that includes the following case reports:

A 25-year-old woman with asthma worked at a child care center doing data entry. Her workplace had meetings about not spraying chemicals in the office, but did not have a written fragrance-free policy. A co-worker sprayed air freshener in the office. The data entry clerk immediately began having severe asthma symptoms and had to go to the emergency room. She also had to take oral steroids to control her asthma. The data entry clerk reported that other co-workers had asthma symptoms as a result of air freshener use.


A 50-year-old man with asthma worked as a security guard for 9 years. Whenever anyone at work was wearing strong cologne or used a product with fragrance, it triggered his asthma. He didn’t want to tell people not to wear scented products, and his asthma just kept getting worse. A fellow employee got scented lotion on the guard’s jacket, which worsened his asthma symptoms and gave him hives. He went to the emergency room 6 times before he finally had to leave his job.