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Are Candles Harmful To My Health?

Are Candles Harmful To My Health?

Americans spend over $3.2 billion annually purchasing candles. These aromatic and decorative candles adorn the homes of 7 out of 10 Americans. According to the National Candle Association, there are an estimated 10,000 scents available. It is the fragrance that poses questions about how burning candles can affect your health.

Are candles dangerous to your health?

Many people are concerned that the chemicals in scented candles contain carcinogens. While there is some evidence to point in that direction, as of yet, there appears to be no conclusive evidence that all scented candles pose a risk to your health. One study, conducted by the BBC, revealed that the fragrance in citrus scented candles can react to the air when it is burned and form formaldehyde, a chemical known to be a carcinogen. The culprit responsible for this reaction is limonene, a compound found in citrus fruits that is often used in scented candles, air fresheners and cleaning products.

Another 2013 study revealed that pregnant women who used air fresheners during their pregnancy gave birth to infants who were significantly more likely to have problems with wheezing and lung infections. Whether this carries over to scented candles is unknown, as the focus of the study was air fresheners.

Those with asthma or allergies may find scented candles bothersome, as they may trigger symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, watery eyes and difficulty breathing.

Those with asthma or allergies may find scented candles bothersome, as they may trigger symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, watery eyes and difficulty breathing.

Does that mean you should stop burning candles?

No. Candles themselves are not in question. You can burn unscented candles if you are concerned about the effects of the chemicals in the fragrance of scented candles. You can also burn scented candles sparingly or open a window whenever you burn them. Other options include using naturally fragrant flowers, herbs and spices in your home instead of burning scented candles. If your primary reason for burning scented candles is to eliminate household odors, there are other ways to do that. Give these tricks a try:

  • Keep fresh flowers in the home.
  • Display a bowl of fresh citrus or apples on the counter. The fruit will help freshen the air without artificial fresheners.
  • Place a bowl of baking soda in areas where odor is an issue. The baking soda will absorb and eliminate the odor.
  • Simmer cinnamon sticks and nutmeg in a pot of water to create a holiday scent.

How can you tell if the candle is dangerous?

Read the ingredients listed on the candle label and avoid those containing limonene. Otherwise, look for ingredients known to aggravate allergies or trigger asthma in your household members. While some people with allergies and asthma must avoid all scented candles, others may find that only certain scents trigger their symptoms. Get into the habit of reading the label carefully before purchasing a new scent.

How can you improve the quality of air in your home?

One way to improve the air quality in your home is with live plants. Plants filter the air and produce oxygen, but that's not the only solution. Contact us at Kimbro Air to learn how we can help you improve your indoor air quality using your HVAC system.

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