31 October 2017

Cemetery Visitors Urged Not to Burn Candles with Lead-Cored Wicks

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, urged the public to shun imported candles with lead-cored wicks to avoid inhaling health-damaging lead fumes.

The group aired the warning as candle vendors enjoy brisk sales with the observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in the country.

“While the wicks of locally-made candles are often made of braided cotton, some imported candles contain lead-based metal wire inside the wicks that pose safety hazards,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“These candles can emit lead fumes when burned that can contaminate the air and the surroundings with dangerous concentrations of lead, a potent neurotoxin,” he said.

“Based on our experience, leaded wick candles are often sold by specialty stores selling Chinese prayer articles,” he pointed out.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), responding to the request made by the EcoWaste Coalition, issued a “Public Health Advisory on Lead-Cored Wick Candles” in December 2016.

“We went to Chinese candle retailers in Binondo immediately after the issuance of the FDA Advisory, but we are not sure if the importation, distribution and sale of such toxic candles have totally halted,” Dizon said.

FDA Advisory 2016-146 warned “the public against the purchase and use of all candles with wicks containing lead, candles in metal containers that contain lead, and wicks sold for candle-making that contain lead as an imminent hazard to the public health.”

“As a lead-cored wick candle burns, some of the lead may vaporize and be released into the air.  This airborne lead may be inhaled and may deposit onto floors, furniture and other surfaces in the room where children may be exposed to it,” the advisory said.

Exposure to lead emissions, the FDA warned “can result in increased blood lead levels in unborn babies, babies and young children,” adding that “other toxic effects includes neurological damage, delayed mental and physical development, and attention and learning deficiencies.”

To protect public health and the environment, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to observe the following safety precautions when lighting candles for their dearly departed in cemeteries,  columbaria and prayer altars:

1.  Read and follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions on candle use.

2.  Do not light candles with lead metal in the wicks; choose candles with cotton and other non-metal wicks.

3.  Prune candlewicks to ¼ inch before lighting the candle as long wicks can cause irregular burning and dripping.

4.  Use sturdy candle holders that will not turn over, catch fire or shatter when they get too hot, and big enough to capture the wax drips; be sure to place the candle holder on a stable, heat resistant and uncluttered surface.

5.  Burn candles in a well-aerated space to lessen indoor air pollution, but keep the candles away from air currents to avoid fast burning and flare-ups.

6.  Always keep a burning candle in sight,  do not leave lighted candles unattended, snuff them out before you leave the room or go to sleep, and make sure they are completely out.

7.  Do not drop matchsticks and other objects into the wax pool.

8.  Keep burning candles away from flammable materials such as paper, books, beddings, curtains, decorations, fabrics, furniture, plastics, etc.

9.  If a candle must burn continuously, ensure that it is placed on a durable candle holder and put it on a ceramic, metal or plastic container filled with water.

10. Keep burning candles out of reach of children and safe from pets; educate the kids that candles are not things to eat or play with.





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