Candles are not always romantic. Some of them can cause serious health problems lifestyle


Candles are associated with romantic and intimate moments, and aromatic candles and various air fresheners are an essential part of most homes to diffuse refreshing scents. However, there is another aspect that we seldom think about, and that is the harm that these candles and fragrances can cause to our health and lives, due to the harmful chemicals they contain that are released into an indoor environment. closed, and lead to a decrease in the quality of the indoor air we breathe in our homes and offices.

The dangers of candles and their harm

The average person in high- and middle-income countries spends 85-90% of their time indoors in their home and office, according to the New Zealand Medical Journal. The average person inhales up to 20,000 liters of air per day, and exposure to pollutants in stagnant indoor air can pose risks to our health and well-being, causing symptoms such as irritation of the eyes, breathing problems and headaches.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air pollutant levels are typically 3 times higher than outdoors, and there can be many sources of indoor pollution, such as: cooking, heating and cleaning products, in addition to products we use to remove unpleasant odors from living or working areas, such as candles, air fresheners, room sprays and other products.

Chemicals released by candles in a closed indoor environment reduce the quality of the indoor air we breathe (Shutterstock)

Candles and air fresheners emit more than 100 different chemicals, including “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs). These airborne solids include broad classes of organic compounds, such as limonene (the smell of lemons), alpha-pinene (the smell of pine trees), and beta-pinene, as well as solvents , such as ethanol, formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, xylene. , and other chemical compounds, according to a recent report published by the British newspaper The Guardian (The Guardian).

These volatile organic compounds interact with ozone and other internal oxidants to generate a group of “oxidation products”, which contain toxic molecules that often affect the general health of humans, and the level of toxicity is determined by the amount of inhalants and duration of exposure to them.

Is candle smoke toxic?

When burning, candles release volatile organic compounds and ultrafine particles into the air, a mixture of very small liquid droplets and particles that can enter your lungs, and prolonged exposure to these can lead to serious heart and lung problems.

Additionally, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) readily convert to gases at room temperature, and some of them, such as formaldehyde and benzene, are widely known to be carcinogens, according to Health Line in a recent report.

Inhaling too much smoke of any kind can be harmful to health, burning paraffin candles produces soot, and the combustion products of these candles are similar to those of diesel engines. Therefore, it’s a good idea to reduce the amount of smoke you breathe in by lighting candles in a well-ventilated room and keeping them away from drafts that can increase the amount of smoke you give off.

Burning paraffin wax releases potentially dangerous chemicals such as toluene (pixels)

Conflicting scientific studies

Most modern candles are made of paraffin, and this type of wax is made from petroleum derivatives. A 2009 scientific study found that burning paraffin wax releases potentially dangerous chemicals, such as toluene. The National Candlestick Society of the United States and the European Candlestick Society questioned the reliability of this study, saying that “the researchers’ conclusions are based on unsubstantiated claims”.

The European Candle Society funded another scientific study that looked at all major types of wax, looking for 300 toxic chemicals. The researchers found that the level of chemicals released by each type of candle was well below the amount that can cause human health problems, according to the “Health Line” platform in its aforementioned report.

However, The Guardian confirms that exposure to aromatics, even at low levels, has various adverse health effects. She cites a study in the US, UK, Australia and Sweden which found that 32% of people are sensitive to aromatic emissions, which are a ‘risk factor’ for asthma and ailments. of head.

Exposure to aromatics, even at low levels, has various adverse health effects (Pixels)

The New York Times, in another report on the subject, advised those concerned about using paraffin-based candles to use alternative soy or beeswax candles, as candles have been shown to soy produce soot (black particles resulting from incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons). ) less than paraffin candles.

Burning almost anything can release harmful chemicals. And if you love candles and want to reduce the amount of particles and chemicals you breathe in, use candles made from natural sources, such as beeswax, palm, coconut, and soy, is your best bet.

According to a study, candles made from palm trees emit half as much soot as candles made from paraffin. Researchers point out that natural candles release fewer dangerous chemicals, and it’s best to light candles in a well-ventilated room to reduce the amount of smoke you and your family breathe in.


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