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Are Scented Products Safe to Use in Schools?


When Fund members reach out to our school risk management experts for guidance, we know there’s a good chance other members need similar support. In the collaborative spirit of risk pooling, we’re sharing our response to a member question about scented oils.

Member Question

Some of our employees like to freshen the air in their offices. Are scented products such as oils, lotions, plug-in air fresheners, wax warmers, room spray, scented lotions, essential oils, and diffusers safe? Are there regulations we need to follow?


There are no regulations addressing scented products and indoor air quality (IAQ). Still, local regulations might address related hazards such as fires. You should also consult your district policies. Here are the primary risks you need to understand.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Air fresheners and other scented products emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Chemicals in VOCs can aggravate asthma and chemical sensitivity issues. They can also contribute to poor IAQ that compromises staff and student performance.

Related resource: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created this checklist to help school nurses track IAQ-related symptoms and identify potential IAQ improvement opportunities.


Plug-ins and heated wax warmers could spark fires just like space heaters if not properly managed. Ask your local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), which is your city, county, or volunteer fire chief, whether these products are allowed and if so, what safety requirements or recommendations they can share. If you don't have a local AHJ, contact the State Fire Marshal's Office

Our Guidance

  • Coordinate with your facilities team and school nurses to find workable solutions to the risks associated with scented products. 
  • Remove scented oils and similar products from indoor settings to promote air quality and protect employee and student health.
  • Implement the EPA’s IAQ Tools for School Action Kit districtwide.
  • Work with your maintenance/operations team to ensure your local authority having jurisdiction conducts annual fire code inspections at district facilities.

Supporting Resources

EPA: Volatile Organic Compounds' Impact on Indoor Air Quality

Environmental Health Perspectives: Scented Products Emit Bouquet of VOCs

TASB Facility Services: TASB Facility Service members who suspect they have an indoor air quality issue can reach out for an assessment.

Risk Solutions Staff

The TASB risk solutions team includes risk solutions consultants and communications professionals who deliver training, consultations, articles, and resources that help Fund members control losses and their associated costs.

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