Illuminating Candle Pollution


Photo: Gailf548 via Flickr

You can add paraffin candles to the list of seemingly mundane objects that can negatively affect your indoor air quality. According to a new study put out by American Chemical Society, burning candles is a common and long unrecognized source of indoor pollution. Paraffin candles can release human carcinogens and are extremely hazardous in poorly ventilated areas such as the bathroom. Concerns about these candles are not new. The American Lung Association voiced concerns years ago. The Dangers of Paraffin Candles
Paraffin is obtained from petroleum during the refining process. In fact, it is the very last thing that is extracted during the refining process. Asphalt is the second-to-last byproduct removed and you wouldn’t want a burning pile of that in your house. The soot released during a romantic candle-burning is similar to the emissions released by diesel-burning vehicles. Contaminants may include: toluene, benzene, methylethylketone, naphthalene. Benzene and toluene are considered carcinogens by the EPA.

The new study claims that people who suffer from mysterious allergies may actually be suffering from overexposure to the pollutants in their paraffin candles.

Alternatives to Paraffin
There are plenty of clean-burning candles on the market. Soy-based and beeswax candles are all safe to use and illuminate in much the same way as your paraffin candle. That’s good news for middle-aged women, leisure-suited gentlemen, cult members and the other stereotypical over-indulgers of candles.

And if you have a few paraffin candles sitting in the junk drawer of your kitchen, you won’t die if you want to expend them instead of throwing them in the garbage. So smoke’em if you got’em. (but in moderation and in well-ventilated areas.)

Amid Hamidi , Ph.D. study co-author:

An occasional paraffin candle and its emissions will not likely affect you. But lighting many paraffin candles every day for years or lighting them frequently in an un-ventilated bathroom around a tub, for example, may cause problems.

More on Indoor Air Pollution
Beat the Heat with these Warm-Weather Ventilation Tips
10 Common Indoor Air Pollutants
How to Identify Indoor Air Quality Problems
What You Need to Know About Caulking and Health

Tags: Bathrooms | Volatile Organic Compounds

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