Cytotoxic effects of air freshener biocides in lung epithelial cells

Nat Prod Commun. 2013 Sep;8(9):1301-4.


This study evaluated the cytotoxicity of mixtures of citral (CTR) and either benzisothiazolinone (BIT, Mix-CTR-BIT) or triclosan (TCS, Mix-CTR-TCS) in human A549 lung epithelial cells. We investigated the effects of various mix ratios of these common air freshener ingredients on cell viability, cell proliferation, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, and DNA damage. Mix-CTR-BIT and Mix-CTR-TCS significantly decreased the viability of lung epithelial cells and inhibited cell growth in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, both mixtures increased ROS generation, compared to that observed in control cells. In particular, cell viability, growth, and morphology were affected upon increase in the proportion of BIT or TCS in the mixture. However, comet analysis showed that treatment of cells with Mix-CTR-BIT or Mix-CTR-TCS did not increase DNA damage. Taken together, these data suggested that increasing the content of biocides in air fresheners might induce cytotoxicity, and that screening these compounds using lung epithelial cells may contribute to hazard assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Cell Line
  • Disinfectants / toxicity*
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Monoterpenes / toxicity*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Thiazoles / toxicity*
  • Triclosan / toxicity*


  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Disinfectants
  • Monoterpenes
  • Thiazoles
  • Triclosan
  • 1,2-benzisothiazoline-3-one
  • citral