Romantic, candle-lit dinners: An unrecognized source of indoor air pollution

Aug 19, 2009
These candles are tested for pollutants. Credit: Elizabeth Mosley

Burning candles made from paraffin wax -- the most common kind used to infuse rooms with romantic ambiance, warmth, light, and fragrance -- is an unrecognized source of exposure to indoor air pollution, including the known human carcinogens, scientists reported here today. Levels can build up in closed rooms, and be reduced by ventilation, they indicated in a study presented at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

In the study, R. Massoudi Ph.D., and Amid Hamidi, his undergraduate student, said that that candles made from bee's wax or soy, although more expensive, apparently are healthier. They do not release potentially harmful amounts of indoor air pollutants while retaining all of the warmth, ambience and of paraffin candles (which are made from petroleum).

"An occasional paraffin candle and its emissions will not likely affect you," Hamidi said. "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." Besides the more serious risks, he also suggested that some people who believe they have an indoor allergy or respiratory irritation may in fact actually be reacting to air pollutants from burning candles.

Source: American Chemical Society (news : web)

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User comments : 6

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4 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2009
Oh come on. Is this really unrecognized? That burning things causes pollution and that burning things indoors causes indoor pollution? Sure, the alternatives were unexpected, but I am sure they still produce polution in other forms.

Let's just assume this: Inhaling smoke is probably not good for you.
1.5 / 5 (2) Aug 20, 2009
So, when the greenies turn off our electricity they'll be on our ass for burning candles, do we have to go back to whale oil lanterns now?
not rated yet Aug 20, 2009
I notice many candle wicks are reinforced with a metal core. I wonder what that metal might be. The metal disappears as the candle burns. Seems to be vaporized. That must add to the air pollution as well as chemicals in the waxes.
not rated yet Aug 20, 2009
They use mostly zinc in those types of candle wicks. Don't burn any made before the 70s though, they probably contain lead.
not rated yet Aug 20, 2009
So, when the greenies turn off our electricity they'll be on our ass for burning candles, do we have to go back to whale oil lanterns now?

Where are you going to get the whale oil from? It's illegal to harvest whales for the vast majority of the population.
5 / 5 (1) Aug 20, 2009
So, when the greenies turn off our electricity they'll be on our ass for burning candles, do we have to go back to whale oil lanterns now?

the 'greenies', really? lol, so what does that make you, and oilie? and these so-called greenies want to turn off electricity? ha-ha what a joke. So when do you finish you paranoid, delusional manefesto? [Where are you going to get the whale oil from?] Guess he'll get that oil from killing baby whales, lol.

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