A few American environmental groups have banded together to create a petition asking the U.S. federal government to more strictly regulate air fresheners based on their toxic chemical emissions, writes Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer.
The article outlines the long list of health hazards caused by these seemingly innocuous house-hold items. The list of potential health effects includes: breathing problems, developmental problems in babies, and even cancer in laboratory animals. 
There is nothing indispensable about air fresheners, and yet they have so many hazards associated with them. Among the chemicals found being emitted from them, the petition cites phthalates, benzene and formaldehyde. Phthalates are relatively persistent in the environment. Scientific research has shown that phthalates disrupt hormones, and can cause birth defects of male reproductive organs. Formaldehyde can damage the respiratory system and trigger asthma attacks.
One of the groups petitioning for stricter guidelines for air fresheners is the Sierra Club, a group that the article mentions was instrumental in winning an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require importers of most children’s products to tell the agency if there is lead in the products. 
Kudos goes out to Jane Kay for not only addressing this important issue, but also presenting some solutions. The article gives some ideas for how to make your own homemade fresh alternatives to toxic air fresheners. For example:

Make your own potpourri with dried flowers and fruits; and
Mist a solution made from water and items like lavender or lemons. 

To find out more, you can read the full petition, or read the full article with a list of the worst phthalate emitters.
Toxic Nation Campaigner