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Risk of Indoor Air Pollution Rises When Burning Scented Candles and Incense Sticks

[The Hwankyung Ilbo] Scented candles and incense sticks are categorized as air freshener in accordance with ‘Public Notice on Designation of Products of Risk Concerns and Safety and Labeling Standards’. The Notice regulates the standards for the hazardous substances content of products but not the ones for the emissions of chemicals when burned.

According to a research conducted by the Korea Consumer Agency, all the products investigated were proved to be safe in terms of ingredients such as formaldehyde and methanol. However, results of an analysis of indoor air, which was carried out after burning the products, showed that pollutants were found that exceeded the legal standards.

The test was conducted in a 10.23 ㎥ sized room, in which candles and incense sticks were lit for 2 hours and for 15 minutes respectively. Three out of the 10 scented candles released between 552 and 2803 ㎍/㎥ of total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs), which went beyond the government limit of below 500㎍/㎥. Five of the 10 incense sticks released between 33 and 186 ㎍/㎥ of benzene, a kind of volatile organic compound (VOC), which exceeded the limit of below 30 ㎍/㎥. Both TVOCs and VOC can cause skin or respiratory diseases.

However, the hazardous substances were not detected when indoor air was measured again after the room was ventilated. Hence ventilation is required when scented candles and incense sticks are used in indoor spaces.

Based on these results, the agency plans to require the Ministry of Environment to set up the standards for emissions of hazardous substances when scented candles and incense sticks are burned, and to supervise the labeling on the products more strictly.

조수빈 리포터  press@hkbs.co.kr

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