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Scented candles under scrutiny

Jan 27,2018
Some scented candles and incense sticks sold in Korea release chemicals beyond the legal limit when burned in indoor spaces, according to research released Friday by the Korea Consumer Agency, potentially leading to adverse health effects.

The government agency ran tests on 10 brands of scented candles and 10 incense sticks. In terms of ingredient analysis, all 20 had amounts within the boundary of “safe.”

However, results showed that some of the products, when lit on fire, released substances linked to skin or respiratory diseases.

Three of the 10 scented candles released volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, in amounts of up to five times the government limit for indoor air. The test was conducted based on a candle lit for two hours in a 10-square-meter (108-square-foot) room.

VOCs are chemicals that enter the air at room temperature because of their low boiling point. Most scents and odors are caused by VOCs, and the chemicals are generally harmless, but some could have compounded long-term effects on the human body.

The government limit for indoor emissions of VOCs is 500 micrograms per cubic meter, but the three candles released between 552 and 2,803 micrograms per cubic meter. The consumer agency said concentrations between 300 and 3,000 have the possibility of causing adverse health effects.

Five out of 10 incense sticks released benzene, a carcinogen, in amounts of up to six times the legal limit. Each stick was lit for 15 minutes in a 10-square-meter room.

The five sticks released 33 to 186 micrograms per cubic meter of benzene. The government says benzene is harmless if the level is below 30 micrograms per cubic meter.


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]