Don’t blow off this warning.

An Australian researcher is advising against burning scented candles, as they could pollute homes with toxic chemicals.

Dr. Svetlana Stevanovic, a professor at Deakin University in Waurn Ponds, told local outlet 7NEWS that candle lovers should err on the side of caution when lighting up — the wick, that is.

“Candles and any scents that are being emitted … are associated with the emission of volatile organic compounds and also small particles that stay in the air,” Stevanovic explained, adding that the combustion process is releasing “particulates” that go “directly to our lungs.”

“It is well established that that is causing a range of different negative health effects,” she stated.

Studies have found burning candles do not seem to pose any health risk.
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Nearly all fragrance ingredients in a candle are volatile organic compounds, air pollutants that are found in common household products such as paint, furniture polish and wallpaper.

Health problems stemming from the emission of these compounds depend on the level of exposure and the length of time exposed. People may experience eye, nose and throat irritation; headaches; loss of coordination; nausea; or even damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Researchers have studied the health effects of burning scented candles. A 2014 study published in the Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology journal concluded that “under normal conditions” use of scented candles poses no known health risks.

German scientists funded by the European Candle Association, meanwhile, examined major types of waxes for toxic chemicals in a 2007 study that found candle emissions pose no discernible risks to human health or indoor air quality.

array of candles on tables next to window
Experts are divided as to how detrimental candle ingredients are to our health.
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Stevanovic warned candles and other scented products that give homes a signature aroma can cause allergic reactions or headaches. She cautioned that symptoms could be worse for those with asthma or other respiratory conditions.

She estimates that one-third of the population is sensitive to scent compounds, and due to their ever-changing nature as they burn, they only become more toxic — especially indoors.

“Outside you have wind, you have a lot of dilution, you have larger air mass, but inside the volume of air is small, and we are not exchanging the air, we are basically just putting new pollutants into the air,” she reasoned.

Candles line up on counter
The key to burning candles — and blowing them out — is to do so in a well-ventilated area.
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She also advised against buying into manufacturer buzzwords. While soy and beeswax are considered safer than products containing paraffin, calling an item “organic” or “natural” doesn’t ensure its safety, Stevanovic added.

“[Natural] doesn’t mean that if we inhale it all the time it’s good for us, so we should do everything in moderation,” she said, emphasizing that opening windows and doors or investing in “greenery” is key to keeping the space safe and ventilated.

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