Researchers from South Carolina State University hypothesize that burning candles may cause cancer.
After studying the emissions of paraffin wax candles, they discovered that the candles emitted several harmful substances such as formaldehyde and other chemicals, in ‘sharp peaks’. Medical professionals think that these chemicals can cause asthma and lung cancer.
Amid Hamidi, lead researcher in the study, said that people who use candles every day or very frequently were most at risk of developing respiratory illnesses and cancer, for instance, people who light candles around their bath tub at night.
He said that people who just use candles occasionally need not worry as it isn’t likely to affect their health.
His study is not the only one that has looked into candles and cancer. Previous research has been undertaken at the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of South Florida, on the use of scented candles and it found that candles are capable of emitting a variety of dangerous substances including lead, ethanol, benzene and methyl ethyl ketone.
91 candles were tested for lead emissions and it was found that 27 of them had wire wicks. One of those 27 was also in a metal container. Four of the candles were found to emit lead in quantities ranging from 0.40 µg/min to 120 µg/min. Researchers suggested that the possible impact from using scented candles included aggravation of asthma, neurological diseases, behavioural disorders and cancer.
However, the NHS of the UK isn’t alarmed because they say that the more recent study hasn’t been published yet and they think there is ‘no evidence’ that candles can harm.
Dr. Joanna Owens, from Cancer Research UK, said
“There is no direct evidence that everyday usage of candles can affect our risk of developing cancer. In terms of cancer, a far more significant type of indoor air pollution is second-hand cigarette smoke.”
Researchers have suggested ways to enjoy candles safely:
• Make sure your room is well ventilated
• Don’t use paraffin based candles – opt for beeswax or soy ones
• Limit your usage – don’t use them every day.
All in all, don’t panic.