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Dangers Burning Candles & Incense -
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Dangers Burning Candles & Incense:

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The sole purpose of this web page is to motivate you to research the health risks of burning candles and incense. If you must use candles or incense make sure the space you are using is well ventilated and limit the amount of time you are exposed to the smoke.


Some Candles Emit Dangerous Levels Of Lead

Lead poisoning remains one of the most serious environmental diseases around the world. It affects many organ systems, and the central nervous system of children is particularly sensitive to lead. Some of the most damaging neuropsychological effects of lead poisoning of young children include learning disabilities, reduced psychometric intelligence, and behavioral disorders. These effects have been associated with chronic low-level exposure to lead and are believed to be irreversible.

Regular exposure to lead in confined spaces could pose health risks. Lead poisoning can lead to behavior changes and damage internal organs, especially the kidneys. Burning metal-wick candles for hours can result in airborne lead concentrations that pose a threat to human health. People with weak immune systems, including children and the elderly, are particularly at risk. Besides breathing lead fumes, children can be exposed to even more lead that is deposited on the floor, furniture, and walls because they often put their hands in their mouths.

Candles are quickly becoming one of the most common unrecognized causes of poor indoor air quality. Part of the candle craze may be due to new interest in aromatherapy, a type of alternative medicine in which odors are used for relaxation, or to treat illness. Ironically, the very candles sometimes used for aromatherapy can cause serious health problems. The chief culprits are candles with wicks made with metal cores. For aromatherapy, put a few drops of scented oil in a diffuser -- a tray made to fit on a light bulb. Or you can put the drops into some boiling water.

Some candle makers use metal-core wicks because cotton wicks are often limp and fall over into the wax, extinguishing the flame. Don’t buy cheap imported candles from countries such as Mexico or China. Metal cores in Chinese countries are made of either pure lead, or lead alloy. Candles from Mexico consist of zinc, or lead-containing alloys.

Watch out for shiny metal wire inside the wicks of candles. Opt for pure paper or cotton instead. Watch out for slow-burning candles with additives. Look for pure beeswax candles, which emit less pollution. Ask the retailer what is in the candle. Not all candles -- or even all scented candles -- cause hazardous pollution. Not all candles are made with wicks that have metallic cores. The practice is primarily used with candles that are needed to burn longer, such as scented or ceremonial candles. A metal core is used to provide rigidity to the wick, which provides an even and slower burn rate, and to reduce mushrooming at the tip.

Candles of both the scented and unscented forms emit a variety of by-products on burning. These by-products may be generic (common to all combustion processes) such as carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), aldehydes, unburned/partially burned hydrocarbons, and particulate matter (soot particles). Candle specific by-products include a variety of aldehydes, alcohols, and esters, which are responsible for the odor/aroma associated with particular candle types.




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