From department stores to specialty boutiques, scented candles are everywhere. In fact, chances are good that you have several in your own home, whether for use or decoration. That’s why the next statement may come as a big shock. Due to a number of toxins in candles, not only are there health risks associated with burning scented candles, but they also contribute to indoor air pollution. Let’s examine the truth behind scented candles.
Toxins in Candles
Researchers have found that some scented candles can produce smoke with almost as many toxins as those produced by cigarettes. (6) After reviewing information found in studies conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and South Carolina State, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a report regarding the dangerous chemicals found in scented candles (1). When candles are burned, they give off trace amounts of organic chemicals, including:
Acetaldehyde: considered a probable human carcinogenic, acetaldehyde is linked to throat and nose irritation. It can also be toxic to the endocrine, immune, neurological, and system respiratory and has been shown to significantly compromise brain function. (2)
Acrolein: Added as a solidifying agent to the candle wax, acrolein has been linked to a risk of lung cancer. (3)
Formaldehyde: An agent used in the embalming process, formaldehyde has been linked to cancer in the nasal cavity. (1)
Naphthalene: Napthalene is also linked to an increased risk of respiratory disorders and cancer. (1)
Zinc: When inhaled in large amounts over a short period of time, zinc can result in metal fume fever, which causes flu like symptoms. (1) Little is known about the long term effects of breathing in zinc dust.
Lead: Although most candle manufacturers agreed to stop producing candles with a lead wick in 1974, there are a few that still do. Lead inhalation can cause damage to the internal organs, especially the kidneys, as well as significant behavior changes. It also adversely affects the central nervous system, the heart, and the red blood cells. (4)
Cadmium: Cadmium disrupts the endocrine system and has been shown to cause birth defects in mammals. It has also been linked to low birth weights and stillbirths. Men who are exposed to high levels of cadmium are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. (7)
Health Risks Associated With Candle Use
In addition to the risks linked to the toxins above, scientists believe that the smoke produced by scented candles is linked to asthma, cancer, eczema, and other skin complaints. Candles made of paraffin wax, the most popular type of candle, are known for releasing harmful amounts of toluene and benzene, both of which contribute to air pollution, are known for causing asthma attacks, and an increased risk of lung cancer. (5)
Air Pollution Related to Scented Candles
Scented candles release soot and other particles into the air, which can trigger both allergic reactions and asthma attacks, and can remain suspended in the air for several hours. (6) According to the EPA, scented candles release more soot than unscented candles, with cored candles (a cored wick has cotton wrapped around a metal or paper core for support) releasing the dirtiest soot. Candles with long wicks produce the most soot, as well as a smoky flame that only adds to the air pollution.
As the result of the air pollution associated with scented candles, individuals with asthma often notice an exacerbation of their symptoms. According to Stanley Fineman, M.D., president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, “Most patients who stop using scented products have noticed an improvement in their symptoms.” (6)
After learning about the dangers lurking behind the sweet smell of scented candles, will you use them in your home?
I hope not but the good news is that you do not have to give up candles completely! Not only do you not have to give them up BUT you can actually safely enjoy them anytime, anywhere.
What if I told you that there was a candle available that was made with organic coconut wax and organic beeswax to ensure the cleanest, longest lasting candle (45-50 hour burn time). This candle is also made with a scent from pure essential oils and it has a natural cotton wick. Pretty cool right?
You might remember that I discussed the Ava Anderson line of products recently. While I am NOT a rep for the line, I do like them for a myriad of reasons (which you can read about here). I was pretty excited to try out the Lavender candle and I must say – next to hand rolling your own beeswax candles, this candle is about as good as it gets. The scent was mild, the candle itself burned clean, and so far it is lasting a long time!
If you are in the market for health conscious, environmentally conscious candles, I suggest you check out this line from Ava Anderson. If you decide to order, PLEASE follow the instructions at the end of this post. Also, please see this post about how you can get some awesome goodies for free!
If you would like to get started with this fabulous line of products, please visit: www.AvaAndersonNonToxic.com/Stewart. The Mystery Party Code that you will use at checkout is 69942. Here is a little graphic to help you make sure you place the order correctly. The name Hybrid Rasta Mama should appear in green if everything was entered correctly.
There is a pretty cool special this month as well. Check it out!