Survey and Risk Assessment of Particle and Heavy Metal Emissions from Candles

Survey of chemical substances in consumer products No. 157, April 2017

Many Danes lit candles in their homes daily or almost daily, which leads to a higher concentration of particles in the indoor air. The purpose of this report was to gather more knowledge about the particle emission from candles, and to assess whether there is a health risk associated with the indoor use of candles.

The study was divided into different phases: a survey and review of exiting knowledge, analyses of candles and a health assessment. The survey identified 129 different candles for candlesticks from 56 different brands, including 32 different white candles, which were selected for subsequent analysis. Particle emission concentration was measured both near the light source (20 cm above the flame) and in a climate room of 20 m3 (1.5 m from the lighted candles). The content of lead and nickel were also analyzed in the wax and the wick and in particles collected on filters. The study found that lit candles, that burn with an optimal combustion, emit a large number of particles but a relatively small particle mass. However, the estimated exposure levels based on these results were not associated with health risks. The measured levels of lead and nickel in the candles were below the EU limit values and the obtained exposure levels did not lead to health concerns. Assessment based on measurements from another study found in the literature showed higher and more concerned exposure levels to particle emissions. The study from the literature also measured particle emissions under sooting combustion,. Based on this the advice is to choose candles that burn with a stable and non-sooting flame, as this will reduce particle emission significantly.

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