Experts have warned that burning scented candles could release “dangerous pollutants” in the home and increase the risk of developing cancer.
They’re particularly popular with Brits during the colder months and reports suggest we spend over £90million on them each year, but some studies have found that long-term exposure to scented candle fumes could lead to health problems.
A 2009 study carried out by scientists at South Carolina State University, in the US, reportedly discovered that paraffin wax emissions may cause allergies, asthma and even cancer.
Dr Ruhullah Massoudi said, as reported by The Sun: “The paraffin candles we tested released unwanted chemicals into the air.
“For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma.”
Regular use, especially in unventilated areas, could cause problems. But the researchers noted that occasional use was unlikely to lead to health issues.
Dr Andy Whittamore, a GP working with Asthma UK, said: “Although we don’t yet know exactly which chemicals or fragrances are most likely to trigger people with asthma, our advice is for people to avoid them if they notice they cough more or get symptoms such as breathlessness around scented candles.”
Others are reassuring consumers there is insufficient evidence to suggest scented candles might cause cancer.
A Cancer Research UK spokesperson quoted by The Sun said there is “no direct evidence” and pointed out that secondhand smoke from cigarettes is a “far more significant type of indoor air pollution”.
Similarly, a representative of the The British Lung Foundation said “occasional” use of paraffin wax candles should pose no risk to lung health, but still advised consumers to keep rooms well ventilated to reduce a build-up of fumes.
It is also believed that scented candles, along with other products that keep our homes smelling fresh, could be having a negative impact on the environment.
The Independent reported that candles, along with various cleaning products, were targeted in the Government’s Clean Air Strategy report, published in January.
The former Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said at the time that manufacturers would be told to cut down emissions from scented candles.
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