Paraffin candles may cause respiratory or nasal irritation

A study presented by R. Massoudi Ph.D., and Amid Hamidi , Ph.D. at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society suggested that burning candles made from paraffin wax from petroleum - the most common kind - is an unrecognised source of exposure to indoor air pollution, including the known human carcinogens. Levels can build up in closed rooms but can be reduced by ventilation.

The researchers said that that candles made from bee's wax or soy, although more expensive, seemto be healthier as they do not release potentially harmful amounts of indoor air pollutants.

"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.


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First Published in August 2009

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