Claim:  Glade PlugIns brand air fresheners have been proven to be a significant fire hazard.

Status: Per Snopes.com, False, Last updated March 18, 2008

The following is an example of a forwarded email that has been circulating since 2004:

Electrical Hazard

My brother and his wife learned a hard lesson this last week.  Their house burned down...nothing left but ashes.  They have good insurance, so the home will be replaced and most of the contents.  That is the good news.  However, they were sick when they found out the cause of the fire.

The insurance investigator sifted through the ashes for several hours.  He had the cause of the fires traced to the master bathroom. He asked my sister-in-law what she had plugged in the bathroom. She listed the normal things...curling iron, blow dryer.  He kept saying to her, "No, this would be somethng that would disintregrat at high temperatures."  Then, my sister-in-law remembered she had a Glade Plug-in in the bathroom. The investigator had one of those "Aha" moments. He said  that was the cause of the fire.  He said he has seen more home fires started with the plug in type room fresheners than anything else. He said the plastic they are made from is a THIN plastic. He said in every case there was nothing left to prove that it even  existed. When the investigator looked in the wall plug, the two prongs left from the plug-in were still in there.

My sister-in-law had one of the plug-ins that had a s mall night light built in it.  She said she had noticed that the light would dim..and then finally go out.  She would walk in a few hours later, and the light would be back on again. The investigator said that the unit was getting too hot  and would dim and go out rather than just blow the light bulb.  Once it cooled down, it would come back on.  That is a warning sign. The investigator said he personally wouldn't have any type of plug in fragrance device anywhere in his house. He has seen to many burned down homes.

Thought i would warn you all.  I had several of them plugged in my house. I immediately took them all down.

Origins: In early 2002, the manufacturer SC Johnson invoked a voluntary recall of their Glade bran Extra Outlet Scented Oil Air Freshener's ( a plug-in air freshener which included its own outlet so that consumers wouldn't have to give up an outlet space to use it) because they had found a loose connection inside the extra outlet that MIGHT pose a fire hazard.  There had been been no actual reports of fires property damage associated with the product prior to its recall.  In October 1994, Johnson recalled five million Glade plug-in fresheners sold between  1992 and July 1994 as a precaution after receiving 600 complaints including 12 allegations about the fresheners being involved in fires.

Is there any evidence that the current Glade Plugin air freshener poses a significant fire hazard, as alleged in the message quoted above? There hasn't been any studies or news reports demonstrating that plug-in fresheners (Glade or other brands) pose a significantly higher fire hazard than other electrical devices.  Such reports are generaly sketchy and inconclusive, as in WABC-TV reporter Tappy Phillips' coverage of a 2002 story about a possbile connection between plug-in air fresheners and homes fires. Phillips said the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) showed them scores of reports from consumers, chronicling fire hazards associated with plug-in air fresheners from various manufactureres, but the CPSC also asknowledge some fires attributed to air fresheners may be caused by faulty electrical wiring.  WABC looked at two instances where air fresheneres were suspected in house fires, but the causes of those fires had not been definitively established.  (Both cases involved non Glade brand products, but Wallflower, a plug-in air freshener manufactured by the Whhite Barn Candle Company).

 Although some fire officials may recommend that consumers not use plug-in air fresheners, it's now the case that air fresheners are mistakenly being blamed for fires started by other causes (such as faulty wiring) or fires of undetermined origin.  It is important to note that just about any electrical device can potentially malfunction and cause a fire, so sporadic reports of air freshener-caused fires (even if true) don't in themselves demonstrate that such devices pose a disproportionate fire hazard.

This statement is off the SC Johnson website.

SC Johnson recently learned that there have been postings on the Internet that have claimed that its products were involved in fires. It is important that you know that all of the Glade PlugIns® products are safe and will not cause fires.  The company knows this because Glade PlugIns® products have been sold for more than 15 years and hundreds of millions of the products are being used safely.  

Because SC Johnson is committed to selling safe products, the company thoroughly investigated these rumors. First, it confirmed that no one had contacted SC Johnson to tell the company about these fires or to ask the company to investigate them. Additionally, SC Johnson had a leading fire investigation expert call the fire department representative who is identified in one of the Internet postings.  That fireman indicated that he has no evidence that SC Johnson products had caused any fire.  

SC Johnson suspects this rumor may be associated with a past SC Johnson voluntary recall of one of its air freshener products, a Glade® Extra Outlet Scented Oil product that was sold for a short period before June 1, 2002.  After discovering an assembly error in a small number of that product, SC Johnson implemented a voluntary recall and provided extensive information about the product to the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission (CPSC).  After revising the manufacturing process and thorough testing for proper assembly, the Glade® PlugIns® Scented Oil Extra Outlet product returned to store shelves on June 3, 2002.  SC Johnson has no knowledge of any credible reports of fire related to this product.

SC Johnson also knows that its products do not cause fires because all of the Glade PlugIns® products have been thoroughly tested by Underwriters Laboratories and other independent laboratories, and SC Johnson products meet or exceed safety requirements.  SC Johnson continues to work closely with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate allegations involving PlugIns® products.  

As a more than 100-year-old, family-owned company, SC Johnson is committed to providing top quality products that can be used safely in homes, and the company wants to reassure you that Glade PlugIns® products can be used with complete confidence.  
 

This is the recall, also the CSPC website:

The date of this recall was April 19, 2002

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), SC Johnson, of Racine, Wisc., is voluntarily recalling about 2.5 million Glade® Extra Outlet Scented Oil Air Fresheners. These Extra Outlet PlugIns® may have been misassembled during manufacture, which could pose a risk of fire.

SC Johnson has received five reports of misassembly and no reports of injury or property damage.

The Glade® Extra Outlet Scented Oil electric air fresheners come in two fragrances, Sky Breeze™ and Mystical Garden™. The air fresheners have a unique rotating plug-thru outlet, which allows other electrical devices to be used in the same outlet as the plug-in. The rotating outlet says "15 Amps Max" on the front and has a yellow disk on the back. The Extra Outlet Scented Oil units have a model number "SCJ079" on the back. No other products, sold under the Glade® PlugIns® brand names, are part of the recall.

Grocery and retail stores nationwide sold the air fresheners between January 2002 and April 2002 for between $4 and $5.

Consumers should immediately unplug the air fresheners and contact SC Johnson at (800) 571-0920 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT Monday through Sunday, or anytime on-line at www.scjohnson.com, for free, full value replacement coupons or a refund.

There have been no other recalls since.

 

A Report I found:

SUBJECT: Glade Plug In Air Freshener  LOCATION: 2427 Columbine, North Pole DATE/TIME:  April 15, 2007, Approximately 11:45 PM RESPONDING UNITS:  North Star Volunteer Fire Department INCIDENT NUMBER: Unknown SUMMARY:  Approximately 10:30 PM Sunday evening, Mr. Lasyone and his wife retired to their bedroom for the night.  Unable to sleep and still awake after about an hour, Mr. Lasyone mentioned to his wife that he could smell something burning and asked her if anything may have been left on.  Mrs. Lasyone stated that she did not believe anything was on, but was not sure.  Mr. Lasyone got out of bed to check the kitchen, bathroom and living room to ensure nothing was on.  Mr. Lasyone did not find anything that may be causing the smell.  Mr. Lasyone then went down stairs to the shared laundry room to check the dryer, no smell was noticed the laundry area.  Mr. Lasyone then proceeded back to his bedroom and noticed the burning smell was stronger in the area of the spare bedroom directly across from the master bedroom, Mr. Lasyone open the door to the bedroom and noticed a small fire coming from the West wall of the bedroom.  Mr. Lasyone also witnessed flames shooting from the wall and landing on a nearby futon and beanbag chair.  Both the futon and beanbag chair ignited on fire.  Mr. Lasyone quickly grabbed an ABC Dry Chemical fire extinguisher and extinguished the fire.  Mr. Lasyone then called 911 at approximately 11:47 PM to report the fire.  The North Star Volunteer Fire Department arrived on scene and confirmed the fire was extinguished and no fire extension was found.  The fire department also used a thermal imaging device, which can identify hot spots in the walls and found nothing.I Charles Gibbs was contacted on April 16, 2007 at 2:09 PM by Mae Harrell, to perform an investigation of the residents and determine the cause of the fire and extent of damages.    INVESTIGATION:             Brent Kaiser and I met with the occupant at 2427 Columbine at 9:00 AM, 17 April 2007 to perform the investigation.    FIRE CAUSE AND DETERMINATION:             I have determined the cause of the fire at 2427 Columbine was the result of the Glade Plugin malfunction.  Without the use of highly sophisticated testing equipment and laboratory analysis, the only indication that would cause the plugin to malfunction is the internal warmer used to, heat up the scented oil malfunctioned and heated the unit to the point that the plastic melted and started on fire.    CONTRIBUTING FACTORS AND SAFETY CONCERNS:              During my investigation, I went to SC Johnson web site to gather more information on the Glade Plugin.  I located the contact us link and called the 1-800 numbers to speak with someone about the flammability of the scented oil that is used in this particular product.  I looked on the box the product was packaged in, and did not find any warning labels indicating the liquid scented oil was in any way flammable.  After speaking with Jessica on the phone, she too did not know if the oil was flammable and indicated to me that if it were, a warning label would be on the product packaging.  I asked her for a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for this product.  Jessica instructed me on how to obtain a copy of the MSDS.  After locating the MSDS on the SC Johnson web site, I noticed in the Hazard Area of the MSDS that the flammability of the oil was rated a 2 and the Flash Point of the liquid was 161 degrees Fahrenheit.  With the information gathered the chance of the Glade Plugin sustaining a malfunction and starting a fire is completely plausible.  It is also conceivable that the sparks Mr. Lasyone seen shooting from the wall was in fact the scented oil spraying out of the small replaceable container it is housed in.  Due to the extreme heat from the warmer and fire that now surrounded it, the liquid container obtained a small hole, and the hot liquid sprayed out of the hole due to pressure built up inside the container.    ESTIMATED FIRE LOSS COST: Damage to structure - $0.00Damage to interior items - $700Total Damage and Loss estimated costs - $700              End of Report  My Own Conclusion: I've tried the Glade Plugins.  The scent was much to strong for all off, so I tossed them out and have never gotten them again.  Personally, I think anything plugged into an electrical outlet can pose a fire hazard. As for the email, it's not signed, so nobody has any idea who the author is, nor are those involved in the fire named.  It would be nice to at least know what city or town the alledged fire took place.  Snopes and other urban legend sites I studied stated this is false.  Me, personally, while the email in and of itself has proven to be false,  I think it's a very slim and  random possibility that faulty wiring where one of these plugins are, could trigger a fire, but then so can a plugged in lamp, tv, stereo, radio, etc, etc.

Sources:

Snopes.com

urbanlegends.com

SCJohnson official website

CPSC Website

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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