The European Candle Association seriously questions the scientific validity of a report by two South Carolina State University researchers* suggesting that candles, especially paraffin candles, can release harmful amounts of indoor air pollutants or even carcinogens.
The assertions of Drs. Massoudi and Hamidi totally contradict the overwhelming body of scientific evidence of the topic. They have provided no data for review, and their conclusions are based on unsupported claims. No reputable scientific study has ever shown any candle wax, including paraffin, to be harmful to human health.
An authoritative international study in 2007 tested candles made from every major wax type and analyzed their emissions for more than 300 relevant pollutants known or suspected of toxicity, health risks or respiratory irritation at elevated concentrations. The study proved that all waxes burned cleanly and safely, with no appreciable differences in burning behavior. The combustion byproducts of every candle wax were virtually identical in composition and quantity, with all levels registering far below the most restrictive of any applicable indoor-air standards worldwide.
Thus, candles can still be perfectly used to create an emotional atmosphere without having to fear any negative health effects.
* Emission products of petroleum-based candles, Ruhullah Massoudi and Amid Hamidi, South Carolina State University, presentation before American Chemical Society symposium session, 2:15-2:35 p.m., 19 August 2009, Washington DC.
Research funded under a US Department of Agriculture grant entitled, Soybean Candles for a Healthy Life and Well Being.