Scented candles have become a common element in home decor and everyday habits. They are often used for mood lighting, diffusing calming aromas, and just as a way to relax after a long day. However, previous studies have claimed that they might do more than good. Now a new study shows that burning candles might lead to adverse health problems in young adults with mild asthma.
The new study by researchers from the Department of Public Health at Aarhus University suggests that people should be cautious about burning candles. The findings showed that indoor air pollution caused by burning candles and fumes while cooking can have a negative impact on health such as causing irritation or inflammation in young people with mild asthma. The researchers also found indications of DNA damage and signs of inflammation in the blood.
When people cook something on the stove or light candles, ultrafine particles and gases are produced, which enter their bodies. Previous studies have shown that these particles and gases can have adverse effects on health. This study focuses on the effects on individuals aged between 18 and 25 with mild asthma, according to a press statement published in Eureka Alert.
"In the study, we observed that even very young individuals with mild asthma can experience discomfort and adverse effects if the room is not adequately ventilated during cooking or when burning candles. Young people are generally fitter and more resilient than older and middle-aged individuals. Therefore, it is concerning that we observed a significant impact from the particles on this particularly young age group,” Karin Rosenkilde Laursen, co-author of the study says in the statement.
The researcher added that it’s important to prioritise having a healthier indoor climate. It’s better to open doors and windows when cooking or lighting candles. These may be able to help reduce the risk of lung and cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer, Laursen added.
Over the years, there have been debates on whether scented candles are harmful to health. For instance, a 2014 study, published in the journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, found that some potentially cancer-causing chemicals, like benzene and formaldehyde, were produced. Notably, the study also found that the highest measured levels after four hours of burning were less than half of high as the recommended indoor air-quality limits stated by the World Health Organization, as reported by The New York Times. Considering these findings, researchers concluded that scented candles, under normal use, might not pose health risks to people.