Scented candles create a warm, aromatic glow that is often associated with a good mood and a merry, festive spirit. But did you know that these seemingly harmless accessories may lead to health hazards? Dr Vipul Gupta, Director of Neurointervention and Co-Chief of the Stroke Unit at the Artemis Agrim Institute of Neurosciences, Artemis Hospital Gurugram, shares the health hazards of using scented candles.
“Scented candles have become synonymous with relaxation and creating a cosy atmosphere, but there are potential dangers associated with prolonged exposure to their fumes. While the pleasant fragrance may be enticing, it’s essential to recognise that scented candles emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can adversely affect indoor air quality,” cautions Dr Gupta.
VOCs released during the burning of scented candles include chemicals like benzene and toluene, which are known to have harmful effects on respiratory health. Prolonged inhalation of these compounds has been linked to respiratory irritation and headaches, and, in extreme cases, may exacerbate conditions such as asthma, the doctor shares.
Moreover, Dr Gupta highlights that certain candle wicks contain lead, which, when burned, releases toxic fumes into the air. “Inhaling lead emissions poses serious health risks, particularly for pregnant women, children, and individuals with compromised immune systems,” he emphasises.
To mitigate the potential risks associated with scented candles, Dr Gupta recommends opting for candles made from natural materials like soy or beeswax. These alternatives tend to produce fewer harmful byproducts when burned and are considered safer options for indoor use. “Ensuring proper ventilation while burning scented candles can help disperse any released pollutants and reduce their concentration in enclosed spaces. Also, limit the duration of candle use and be mindful of symptoms such as dizziness or respiratory discomfort, which may indicate an adverse reaction to the emitted fumes,” says Dr Gupta.
So while you prioritise sensory pleasures, keep in mind the health considerations associated with these popular decorative items, says Dr Gupta. He adds, “Before igniting that fragrant candle, it’s wise to weigh the potential hazards and make informed choices for a healthier and safer festive season.”
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