SCENTED candles are a danger and should be avoided, a Cork Chemistry professor has said.
Professor John Sodeau of the Centre for Research into Atmospheric Chemistry at UCC said that while the public may be used to hearing about outdoor air pollution from diesel exhausts and chimneys less is known about indoor threats.
“The public knows much less about indoor sources of air pollution even though they can be equally damaging to our health,” he added.
UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove has declared war on scented candles, woodburning stoves and household spray cans in a bid to reduce particulate emissions by 30 per cent by 2020, and by 46 per cent by 2030.
He said tackling air pollution would save £5.3billion sterling a year from 2030.
“You might well ask if the Christmas gifts of candles you gave or received can really be dangerous,” said Professor Sodeau.
“The answer is yes because burning the wax gives rise to small particles that can get into our lungs.
“But more than that scented varieties, as well as many paints and furniture polish, can release vapours, called Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC, to the air,” he added.
“These are often irritants, especially to asthmatics, and should be avoided by us all.”
Professor Sodeau warned that public areas can also have harmful emissions and particles in the air.
“Romantic candle-lit restaurant meals or attending church with many votive candles can also prove to be a health risk,” he explained.
“Fortunately, there are now makes of smokeless candle that can be bought but are not often purchased.
“Buy them if you can,” he advised.
“At least the UK are taking up the indoor challenge.
“It will be interesting to see if the much-vaunted Clean Air Strategy for Ireland, which is to be published in the next few months, even mentions the problem.”