Could scented candles kill you? They're many women's favourite indulgence - but their fumes are as toxic as cigarettes

vendredi 4 décembre 2015
Few homes are without the wafting perfume of a scented candle from time to time. We light them to infuse a room with fragrance, to add a romantic ambiance to a meal and to make bathtimes more luxurious.

But could the very candles used to soothe our mood actually be bad for us?
Research has shown some scented candles produce smoke laced with almost as many toxins as those produced by cigarettes.



When U.S. researchers burnt a range of candles in a laboratory for a study published two years ago, the chemicals released in harmful amounts included human carcinogens and chemicals known to cause asthma attacks, such as toluene and benzene.

Dr Amid Hamidi of South Carolina University, who led the study, showed that paraffin-based candles produced ‘clear sharp peaks’ for many chemicals, mainly because they do not reach high enough temperatures when being burned to destroy the hazardous molecules they emit.

‘An occasional paraffin candle and its emissions will probably not affect you,’ he said. ‘But lighting many of them every day for years, or lighting them frequently in an unventilated bathroom, for example, may cause problems.

It’s not just the candle wax that is potentially dangerous. Top-of-the-range candles are scented with natural perfumes or essential oils. But since they are costly and difficult to add in large quantities, many of the mass-market products contain synthetic fragrances and sometimes dyes that can give off harmful particles when they are heated.

Then there are the hazards of wicks. There are generally two varieties of wick: cored and non-cored. A non-cored wick, made from braided or twisted fibre, is considered the safest to burn, but can be limp and fall over in the wax, extinguishing a flame. Many candle makers use a cored wick, in which cotton is wrapped around a metal or paper core for support.

Like anything that burns, once a candle is lit it produces soot, with particles that can remain suspended in the air for several hours.  

Research by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has shown scented candles give off more of this soot than unscented, and that cored candles release the dirtiest soot — sometimes containing particles of zinc, tin, lead and the metal cadmium.

The length of a candle wick can compound matters. If it’s too long, it will produce more soot and a smoky flame that releases more pollution.

In a laboratory analysis of candles conducted for consumer magazine Proof!, the smoke from pillar-type candles and tealights purchased from supermarkets and department stores in London was analysed for traces of cadmium and lead.

Almost one fifth of those tested had detectable levels of cadmium and a small number released lead.

More alarming were the findings from a study by Dutch scientists, who measured the air particles in churches that burned candles for up to nine hours at a time.

They found ten times as many damaging free radicals — molecules that can cause cancer — in the air inside the churches as they did in the air beside a motorway.

It is known that soot particles can penetrate the deepest parts of the lung and, as such, have the potential to aggravate respiratory illness.

Professor Hamidi says that some people who believe they have an allergy or irritation that causes wheezing may be reacting to the pollutants from candles they are burning at home.

Experts at the British Lung Foundation say that occasional use of candles is unlikely to cause problems, but that it is sensible to light them only in well-ventilated rooms and for short periods of time.

Meanwhile, an online survey carried out by Asthma UK last December found that scented candles were items that made a quarter of respondents’ asthma symptoms worse.

‘Perfumed products can trigger asthma, so it’s important to be careful when buying scented items for people with asthma,’ says Cher Piddock, lead nurse for the charity.

Add to this the fact that the fire service and insurance companies claim candles and tealights are among the leading cause of house fires in the UK, and it may be time for our love affair with scented candles to flicker out.



Source:dailymail.co.uk









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