Candles And Indoor Pollution

Posted Tue, 08/25/2009 - 3:29pm by Fred Lee

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They may be great for creating ambiance, but it turns out that burning some candles can be a source of indoor pollution. Researchers compared petroleum based candles against the vegetable based variety by burning them in a small, enclosed space for six hours and then examining the emissions. The results, which were presented in Washington D.C. by the American Chemical Society, just might surprise you.

It turns out that the most popular types of candles, which are paraffin based, can emit such toxic chemicals as toluene and benzene, while soybean based candles did not. It has been suggested that burning an occasional candle now and then is probably not an issue, but burning many candles in an unventilated space might aggravate certain health conditions, including asthma, allergies and respiratory tract problems.

Regardless of whether certain candles are better than others, some experts feel that the very act of lighting a candle, whichever kind you choose, can potentially compromise our health and safety, and advise people who regularly use them take some precautionary measures, even if it compromises the mood.

With this in mind, it recommended that people always maintain proper ventilation, especially in light of the fact that candles are not the only source of indoor pollution. Indeed, many household products give off what the EPA refers to as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, including cleaning solutions and beauty products.

Furthermore, devices that are designed to keep us comfortable in our homes and at work (i.e., heaters and air conditioners) can create a polluted indoor environment, as well. This is especially true due to the fact that they tend to be operated within a sealed environment where the same stale air is continually re-circulated.

Experts caution that people with respiratory conditions like asthma should be particularly wary of the situation, and that symptoms of indoor allergies might actually be a reaction to indoor pollutants, including candles.

Bear in mind that there is an easy and straightforward solution that involves simply allowing a room to ventilate with fresh air. This is best accomplished by keeping a window open, as well as reducing our usage of solvents in the house and replacing stringent cleaning solutions with soap and water.

Exercise a little common sense, and use your nose! Many compounds that give off a pleasing scent accomplish this through the use of chemicals which can often be irritating to our nose and lungs. So take note of what is in your home, and try to get as much fresh air as possible, because in the end, you can’t beat the invigorating scent of the great outdoors.

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