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Debate is increasing
State regulators are following the growing debate about air fresheners, said Laura Oatman, research scientist for the Minnesota Department of Health. Oatman works with select schools on asthma prevention programs, and said she was surprised to notice strong fragrances from some classrooms she has visited.
While most of her recommendations involve ways to find and eliminate potential irritants such as dust mites, mold and live animals, Oatman said she has also suggested that schools consider policies to remove air fresheners. "We don't have a lot of specific data on health effects [of using them], but strong odors can be a trigger for asthma," she said.
A greater concern could be why air fresheners are being used in the first place, said Oatman, and the possibility that the fragrances may be masking dampness, mold or other serious indoor air issues. "Sometimes when an air freshener is used, it's an indication of an underlying problem and we prefer that a school tries to address that," she said.
Tom Meersman 612-673-7388
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