Are you a candle person? I don’t mean someone who enjoys the occasional candlelight dinner or birthday cake set festively ablaze. I mean a true candle enthusiast, who regularly burns candles for hours at a time. If you answered yes, you may want to consider the effects of candles on the quality of indoor air. Candles create atmosphere and can diffuse delicious, relaxing smells, but their impact on air quality can be hazardous to your property and even your health.
Most candles pollute the air – for the same reason cars do. Many candles are made of paraffin, a petroleum derivative. Just as an automobile engine runs by burning (or combusting) petroleum products, candles create their magic through the same process. The result is the release of something called particulate matter (PM) into the air. The detrimental effects of PM in outdoor air are well-documented, which is why air quality standards regulate the amount of PM allowed in the outdoor air. There are no such regulations on indoor air. As a result, PM levels can sometimes be higher inside your home than outside.
The PM released by burning candles can discolor walls, fabrics, and furniture. More importantly, it can cause health problems, from minor to quite serious. These include:
- Irritation of eyes, nose, and throat
- Aggravation of heart and lung problems
- Premature death in heart and lung disease sufferers
There is also evidence that exposure to chemicals in paraffin candle smoke and soot may increase the risk of cancer.
Ventilate, Ventilate, Ventilate
There are many things you can do to improve indoor air quality by reducing the effects of combustion activities like burning candles, cooking, and using heaters and fireplaces. The key to most of them is increasing ventilation – that is, introducing more fresh, clean air into your home. Examples of helpful measures include:
- Burn candles near an open window – Be careful, though, a breeze flowing through the window from outside can push harmful PM further inside
- Check the air filters in your heating and/or cooling systems, and change them frequently
- Vent combustion appliances to the outdoors
IAQ Specialists in Huntsville
Consult an Indoor Air Quality specialist, who can inspect your home and recommend improvements.
If you are concerned about indoor air quality, Beckham & Jones in Huntsville can help. A family-owned business since 1946, Beckham & Jones provides heating, air conditioning, HVAC and indoor air quality services to residential and commercial customers. Schedule an appointment with a Beckham & Jones specialist by calling today.