Dr. Phelts sees many patients at his New York, NY practice, who say that candles cause them to have various symptoms. Is there any validity to their claims? What is interesting is that they mostly complain of respiratory symptoms. Recent research provides some insight into candles causing respiratory problems and why it could be bad for your health.
A study from Copenhagen University conducted on mice found exposure to substances from burning candles to cause greater damage than the same dose of diesel exhaust fumes. The study showed that candle smoke causes lung inflammation and toxicity, arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and ageing effects on chromosomes in the lungs and spleen (which could increase the risk of developing cancer).
In addition, a study in 2009 by U.S. researchers found that paraffin-based candles release carcinogens (cancer causing substances) and chemicals that may raise the risk of asthma attacks.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that scented candles produce more soot than unscented. Soot can get into your lungs and cause damage to your respiratory system. The longer the candle wick, the more air pollution it produces.
Dr. Phelts recommends avoiding candle burning all together. If you must burn them, it is best to do it only occasionally. You may want to try soy or beeswax candles, since they are less toxic to the body.