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QUESTION: Is there a listing available for candle toxin levels or wax types or such by manufacturer? 02/01/09 Manitoba, Canada

Comments: very interested in the details on the following page on your site: http://www.lead.org.au/lanv7n4/L74-9.html I burn candles all the time and would like to know if there is a way to find and ask candle manufacturers what their Soot, Lead, and Benzene levels are per candle.

Perhaps a label regarding "percent of average daily limit"? Scented candles are a large part of my home lifestyle and decor, but I want to find a way to identify who produces low-toxin candles. I buy most of my candles online from companies in the USA, is there a listing available for candle toxin levels or wax types or such by manufacturer?

thanks in advance for any response, I really appreciate it!

ANSWER: 23/2/09

Dear Sir,

I'm no expert on burning-candle emissions and I don't know if the listing you seek exists, but my personal decision following preparing our online extracts of the "US Scented Candles Study" [at http://www.lead.org.au/lanv7n4/L74-9.html ] was that I would NEVER burn a scented candle, and indeed I would extricate myself instantly from any airspace where scented candles were being burned outside of my control.

As a person now suffering Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, I believe scented candles should be banned. Leaded candles should certainly be banned. Due to my sensitivity to fumes of all kinds, including to the emissions from burning all petroleum products such as petrol and diesel vehicle fumes, I have since extended this decision to never burning a non-beeswax candle or exposing myself to the fumes of burning non-beeswax candles. I burn beeswax candles about twice a year, on special occasions.

Have you considered that burning candles all the time might eventually sensitise you or your cohabitants or close neighbours, to fumes? I for one cannot utilise my own back yard when my neighbour is burning scented candles. Canada is at the forefront of banning the use of perfumed products in public places so hopefully scented candles will be next.

You are at liberty to make requests to candle manufacturers about their Soot, Lead, and Benzene emissions per burning candle and you would be wise to ask this of any manufacturer of which you burn a lot of candles. Ask the store or online store where you purchase your candles for the Material Safety Data Sheet for each candle (you have a right to do this) and they will of course have no idea what you are talking about. In the best case scenario, you can then ask them for the contact details of the supplier, from whom in turn you can request the contact details of the manufacturer.

Good luck getting your question answered. The manufacturer has a duty to supply the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to you as the purchaser but this duty may never have been tested and the MSDS may therefore not exist. Technically the MSDS is only legally required for occupational exposures so you may have to ask someone who works in an airspace where scented candles are being burned, to make all these inquiries for you, unless you work from home yourself.

I am surprised that I can find no evidence online that leaded candles are banned in Canada, considering that the ban was proposed over 5 years ago (see http://gazette.gc.ca/archives/p1/2003/2003-11-22/html/reg6-eng.html ). In the process of searching, I have found what I think is a useful article on which candles are safe to use: "Use Natural Candles" at http://www.bchydro.com/powersmart/residential/guides_tips/green-your-home/lighting_guide
/natural_candles.html
- which states "There is currently no ban on leaded candles in Canada." ["Last Modified: Jan 16, 2009]

If you have been burning leaded candles then the best way to assess your lead exposure is by asking your doctor for a blood lead test. If the result is elevated (above 2 micrograms per decilitre) then you should organise a lead assessment to ascertain all your sources of lead so that you can commence cleanup and getting rid of lead sources.

If it turns out to be true that you have been exposed to lead by burning candles, then I highly recommend that you push for the lead-core wick ban and also ask for the labels which include emissions per burned candle (since the healthy daily limit for soot, benzene and lead is zero [that's one of the big reasons that people who care about their health don't smoke] - the percentage of the average daily limit would not be a useful labelling requirement). If you've a mind to, you could mention that you are considering suing Health Canada for having regulations proposed but with no regulatory outcome for over 5 years. Write to: The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health by using the form at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/contact/index-eng.php

Good luck with reducing your soot, benzene and lead exposure (and that of others). I hope this helps

Yours Sincerely

Elizabeth O'Brien

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