How Candles Affect Indoor Air Quality

Candles in home A few candles can change the entire atmosphere of a room. Unfortunately, they can change the indoor air quality for the worse as well.

Candle Health Risk Studies

In an EPA report from 2001, the agency cited studies which suggest that some candles, especially ones with added scents, can produce chemical reactions which release formaldehyde, acrolein, nitrogen dioxide, and acetaldehyde in concentration levels which exceed the EPA’s indoor air threshold levels for safety.

A study at the South Carolina State University found that paraffin candles may emit toluene and benzene which are toxic. These chemicals can cause a wide range of health issues including asthma, respiratory ailments, and help to contribute to certain forms of cancer.

Why Candles can be Harmful

Burning candles not only releases harmful invisible chemicals but may cause the formation of soot, that black smoke which may stain your walls, ceiling, and fabrics. Soot is formed when candles do not completely burn. While soot may occur with all types of candles, cheaper candles and those with scents tend to produce the greatest amount. A study from the Technical University of Denmark found soot from burning candles is the leading causes of indoor ultrafine particles (UFPs). These particles are so small that they can enter into your lung tissue and cause health problems.

How Can You Protect Yourself From the Dangers of Burning Candles?

Do all the health risks associated with burning candles indoors mean that you should never again light a one inside your home? While that may be the best option, it is probably unrealistic. Here are some steps you can take to lessen the biggest health concerns.

  • Avoid Burning Candles in Unventilated Room: open the door and crack open the window to allow the harmful chemicals to dissipate
  • Choose the Correct Candles: Unscented, natural candles made from beeswax do not contain as many chemicals as those made from paraffin. Never purchase candles with a metal insert.
  • Maintain Candle Wick: Buy candles with a thin wick and trim the wick to a 1/4 inch before burning. This can help limit the amount of soot the candle produces.
  • Limit Amount of Time You Burn Candles: Don’t burn candles for longer than one or two hours per day.
  • Invest in an Air Purifier: Whole home air purifiers can remove the majority of indoor pollutants including those produced by burning candles.

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Comfort Pro, Inc. in Reading, PA can help you reduce your indoor pollutants by installing an air purification system in your home. Call us today to learn more!

How to Test Indoor Air Quality

indoor air quality in homes Homeowners in Reading, PA may wonder exactly what is indoor air quality and why does it matter? The air you breathe inside your home will always have some level of pollution. Indoor air quality or IAG is the measure of the level of common indoor air pollutants and its relationship to the comfort and health of occupants. Your family is exposed to unavoidable environmental air quality issues such as excessive humidity, vehicle traffic, and manufacturer products off-gassing when your HVAC filters or air ducts are clogged and dirty.

There are steps you can take to test indoor air quality and decrease the number of pollutants that circulate through the home’s HVAC system. According to The American Lung Association, the air in your home can be 5 to 70 times more polluted than the air you breathe outside. This is due to the accumulations of contaminants such as dust mites, animal dander, and pet hair – along with biological contaminants such as mold spores, pollen, viruses, and bacteria.

Testing for Mold

The best way to test your indoor air for mold is to seek the help of a professional mold tester that also specializes in air quality issues. One way to detect mold is by smell and any obvious health symptoms. If you notice a persistent musty odor in the home or observe signs of mold growth on window frames or in the basement, then you can purchase a mold test kit. These kits contain a prepared petri dish that is left on a flat surface within the home. Afterward, the sample is incubated for a few days and observed for signs of mold or it is sent to a lab for testing.

Testing for Radon

Radon gases within the home are the result of decaying radioactive materials that leach into the home through cracks in walls, floors, the foundation, basement walls, or attached to dust that enters the home from outside. A short-term radon test (between 2-90 days) that meets EPA requirements can be completed with a number of radon test kit options, such as a charcoal canister kit. The sample you collect is then sent to a lab for analysis. If you have high levels of this toxic gas within the home, then a radon remediation service is the best way to find the source and have it safely removed.

Testing for Other Indoor Air Pollutants

VOCs are the gases emitted from certain materials and liquids. There are actually thousands of household and consumer products that emit VOCs, and the long-term health effects of these pollutants include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and much more. An indoor air quality monitor can pick up a wide range of harmful air pollutants such as smoke, carbon monoxide, dust, and the VOC fumes emitted from inks, paint, glue, perfume, household cleaning products, and alcohol-based liquids.

Your Air Conditioning Experts

Contact Comfort Pro Heating and Air Conditioning for air duct cleaning to reduce the number of air pollutants that are entering your home. We can also discuss your concerns with residential indoor air quality!