The Grand Portage Reservation is at the northeastern tip of Minnesota. The Air Quality Program has many ongoing projects in order to maintain healthy indoor and outdoor air. These projects include monitoring for regional haze and particulate matter, indoor air quality, invasive plant removal, public outreach, environmental education, alternative energy, and climate change.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Burning Candles in Your Home

Well, an article I found prompted me to do some research on burning candles and incense in your home. I found some mixed reviews from green websites and candle websites, so read on and take what you will from it all. The information I am going to share with you is from research conducted by the EPA. It is not all inclusive research, so you will have to read more and use common sense to decide for yourself. Personally, I have loved scented candles in the past, but I am not willing to sacrifice my breathing health for some good smelling candles.

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According to this EPA Analysis and Review:
  1. Some candle wicks still contain lead, and when burned, they will emit more lead concentrations than what the EPA recommends for inhalation.
  2. Candle and Incense Smoke produces particulate matter, which at elevated levels is dangerous to your health. It is especially harmful to those with asthma and other respiratory diseases.
  3. In worst case scenarios (low ventilation and many candles burning), candles are found to release Acrolein, Formaldehyde, and Acetaldehyde, which are cancer causing compounds, at above the EPA's recommended levels.
  4. Paraffin candles release soot, which can cause property damage, but effects to human health are unknown.
  5. Incense smoke has been linked to causing illnesses and contact dermatitis and can cause cancers. It should be noted that this study was done on a limited number of brands and types of incense. Even so, make sure to well ventilate any room where incense is being burned.
So, here are some basic recommendations based on the EPA review and these websites Green America and All Things Natural:
  • Trim wicks down to 1/4 inches, at all times, even while burning, and do not blow out candles but cut the wick off to put them out (will reduce soot). Or, you can use beeswax candles, which are cleaner burning.
  • Look for candles that do not contain added colors or fragrances but contain essential oils for the fragrances.
  • Check the wick for lead by rubbing the wick against a sheet of paper in the store. If the wick has lead, it will leave a gray mark like a pencil.
  • Green websites recommend beeswax or soy candles, but I have found no actual evidence that paraffin (petroleum based) candles are detrimental to health. If anyone knows more, please let me know. I did find on this website about Eco-friendly shopping that soy candles are more Eco friendly because they are a renewable resource and are biodegradable.
I hope this helps! Happy fall everyone!

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