LEAD Action News

LEAD Action News Volume 7 No 4, 2000, ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News ( ISSN 1440-0561)
The journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.

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US Candle Makers Ban Fails

Australian Ban Cited in US Call for Candle Ban

By Public Citizen, Washington Feb. 24, 2000

Public Citizen is petitioning the CPSC to immediately ban and recall all candles with lead-containing wicks, candles in metal containers that contain lead, and wicks sold for candle-making that contain lead because they represent an imminent public health hazard. A continued sale of these items violates provisions of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act and the Consumer Product Safety Act, Public Citizen contends.

Public Citizen in 1973 petitioned the CPSC to remove candles with lead-containing wicks from the market. However, in 1974, in lieu of a ban, the candle industry and the CPSC arrived at a voluntary agreement to immediately stop making candles with lead-containing wicks. Public Citizen’s Health Research Group conducted the survey, however, because of reports that these candles were once again being sold.

"Unless the Consumer Product Safety Commission immediately bans and recalls these candles, it will repeat the reckless and dangerous mistake made 26 years ago in trusting the industry to take care of the matter on a voluntary basis," said Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. "How many more children will suffer lead poisoning before the CPSC fulfils its legal mandate to rid the country of this completely unnecessary source of lead poisoning? If the CPSC does not immediately ban and recall these dangerous products, we will seriously consider bringing legal action against the agency."

In the study, Public Citizen examined 285 candles in 12 area stores. Of those, 86 had metallic wicks.

One country, Australia, recently tackled this problem. In September 1999, Joe Hockey, Australian Minister of Financial Services and Regulation, ordered a ban of all candles with wicks containing lead.

In 1974, Russell Train, then administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, stated that "Inhabitants of homes in which lead-wicked candles are burned could be exposed to substantial incremental quantities of lead which, if continued on a regular basis, would pose a significant risk to health, especially among children with already elevated lead body burdens. In my opinion, candles [with lead wicks] represent an unnecessary incremental source of lead that can be readily controlled." He is still correct, Wolfe said.

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