Public Cautioned against Poison Candles with Lead-Cored Wicks

A waste and pollution watchdog has warned the public against poison-emitting candles after detecting excessive levels of lead, a chemical that can harm the human brain and damage other body systems, in the candlewicks of 70 out of 115 samples bought from Chinatown.
In an advisory issued ahead of the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day and in time for the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action on October 20-26, the EcoWaste Coalition revealed that candles with lead-cored wicks are dangerous, especially to the health of young children as well as to pregnant women.
The group pointed out that such candles with lead-cored wicks would be illegal to manufacture and sell in the United States, which has banned such wicks and candles since 2003.

Burning candles with leaded wicks may release toxic fumes into the surroundings and cause lead exposure via inhalation of airborne lead. Lead dust may accumulate onto the grounds and other surfaces where kids gather or play causing exposure,” warned Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Exposure to even small doses of lead can contribute to increased blood lead level in kids, cause irreparable damage to their brains and bring about learning disabilities, IQ losses, mental retardation and behavioral problems later in life,” he said.

There is no safe blood lead level in children as scientists have said,” he added.

As confirmed by the World Health Organization, “children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, and even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases
irreversible neurological damage.”

For pregnant women, lead exposure can harm the developing brain of the fetus in the womb and even trigger miscarriage,” Dizon added.

n October 18 and 19, the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol bought assorted candle products for P20 to P160/set from 10 retailers in Binondo, Manila.

Subsequent analysis of the candles using an X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer found high levels of lead ranging from 1,178 to 14,900 ppm in the candlewicks, way above the US limit of 600 ppm for lead in wicks and for candles with such wicks.
On the average, the 70 candles with lead-cored wicks had 3,671 ppm of lead.

The other 45 candles with wicks mostly made of cotton tested negative for lead and other toxic metals.

The results prompted the group to advise consumers to shun candles that have lead-cored wicks, which can be identified by the darkish fine metal strand in the center of the white wick.

Consumers were earlier reminded by the Food and Drugs Administration “to exercise safety precautions when burning candles,” saying that “cotton and hemp wicks, as well as metal-free wicks, burn cleanly and safely.”

Six of the worst candles analyzed that had lead and other chemicals of concern include:

1. A red wax candle in a gold ingot-shaped and red-colored plastic container with 14,900 ppm of lead and 228 ppm of chromium.
2. A yellow wax candle in a gourd-shaped glass container with 10,300 ppm of lead and 572 ppm of arsenic.
3. A white wax candle in a pineapple-shaped glass container with 6,097 ppm of lead and 270 ppm of arsenic.
4. A red wax candle in a lotus-shaped plastic container with 5,755 ppm of lead and 148 ppm of arsenic.
5. A red tealight candle with 4,277 ppm of lead and 134 ppm of arsenic.
6. A red wax candle in a gold ingot-shaped ceramic container with 4,520 ppm of lead and 32 ppm of mercury.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has determined that candles using lead-cored wicks could present a lead poisoning hazard to young children and has banned their manufacture and use effective October 2003.

The Commission finds that metal-cored candlewicks containing more than 0.06 percent lead by weight (or 600 ppm) in the metal and candles with such wicks are hazardous substances, and that, due to the degree and nature of the hazard presented by these items, in order to protect the public health and safety it is necessary to keep them out of commerce,” the CPSC ruling said.

The EcoWaste Coalition said that the government should take cue from US and other countries that have banned lead-cored wicks and impose a similar if not more stringent regulation that will prohibit the production, importation, distribution, sale and use of lead-containing candles.


Reference: (go to FDA Advisory No. 2013-041)