Fake toxic Air Wick air fresheners that can knock you out found on sale at markets

  • 100 canisters seized in Mold and 62 in Prestatyn in north Wales
  • 219 found at one wholesaler in Cheetham Hill, Manchester 
  • Cans contain 'excessive amounts of methanol' that can cause headaches, nausea - or loss of consciousness

Fake air fresheners containing chemicals that can cause headaches, nausea and even loss of consciousness have been seized from markets in Manchester and North Wales.

Trading Standards officers from Denbighshire County Council discovered 162 counterfeit refills for the battery-powered auto-spray Air Wick Freshmatic Max on sale at markets in Mold and Prestatyn in north Wales.

Shoppers are now being warned to beware of buying the 250ml  counterfeit canisters of air freshener that were found to contain 'excessive amounts of methanol' - enough to cause loss of consciousness when too much is inhaled over a period of time.

fake Air Wick air freshener from
Fake air fresheners designed to look like this one were found for sale on market stalls

The fake air freshener, left, was designed to look like the authentic one on the right. Council officers say the way to recognise a counterfeit is by the label, which does not fit around the tin and exposes a silver strip down the side

The chemical is a non-drinking and flammable form of alcohol that is often used as an antifreeze, solvent or fuel.

Genuine Air Wick auto-spray refills contain around five per cent methanol and are entirely safe for use.

There is no connection to genuine Air Wick products, which have not been recalled or been linked to any toxins.

A Denbighshire County Council spokeswoman said investigations were ongoing into where the canisters originated and that it was not yet known whether criminal charges will be brought against the sellers.

Phil Richards, Trading Standards senior investigations officer said: 'We would urge anyone who has bought a counterfeit refill to stop using them immediately and get in touch with their local Trading Standards office, giving information about where they got them from and when.

'It is very easy to tell if they are counterfeit by the seal that goes around the can - that's how officers have been able to identify them straight away.'

Some of the counterfeit air fresheners were seized from Mold market in Flintshire, north Wales

Some of the counterfeit air fresheners were seized from Mold market in Flintshire, north Wales

The alarm was first raised when 219 replica air freshener refills seized from a wholesaler in Cheetham Hill, Manchester were found to have been causing people headaches.

Tests commissioned by the manufacturer of genuine Air Wick refills identified excessive amounts of methanol in some.

Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council's executive member for environment, said: 'I would warn Manchester residents to be on their guard when buying Air Wick refills, ensuring they buy genuine products from reputable retailers.'

The counterfeit containers can be easily identified.

Unlike genuine Air Wick refills, the label does not go all the way around the can, leaving a silver strip down one side.

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