EcoWaste Coalition: Shun Toxic Candles with Lead-Cored Wicks
The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition has reminded the public not to light imported candles with lead-cored wicks in remembrance of their departed loved ones during the Undas holidays.
Lighting candles with lead-cored wicks at home or in the cemetery and columbarium will emit lead into the air during burning, causing the vaporized lead to be inhaled or get deposited onto the surfaces and posing “imminent hazard to the public health,” especially to babies in the womb and young children as pointed out by health authorities.
“While locally made candles have braided cotton as wicks, some imported candles, especially those sold at specialty stores selling Chinese prayer articles, may still have lead-cored wicks despite a public health advisory issued by the government,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “To avoid lead poisoning risk, please steer clear of candles with metal wire in the wick unless certified non-toxic and safe.”
The zero waste and toxics-free advocacy group started to campaign for a ban on candles with lead-cored wicks in 2012 after detecting lead ranging from 34,800 to 62,900 parts per million (ppm) in seven imported candles that it bought from retailers in Binondo, Manila. A combined laboratory analysis in 2014 of lead-cored wicks submitted by the group to a private testing company found 207,350 ppm lead in the analyzed wicks.
In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Advisory No. 2016-146 telling the public not to purchase and use candles with lead-containing wicks, candles in lead-containing metal containers, as well as lead-containing wicks for candle-making, to avoid “imminent hazard to the public health.”
As explained in the said advisory, “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.”
“Lead emissions from any source pose health risk and can result in increased blood lead levels in unborn babies, babies and young children,” the FDA warned. “Other toxic effects include neurological damage, delayed mental and physical development, and attention and learning deficiencies.”
To reduce risks from the burning of candles, especially during Undas, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded the public anew to consider the following safety tips:
- Pick candles with cotton or non-metal wicks, and shun those with lead-cored wicks.
- Carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions.
- Trim wicks to ¼ inch before lighting a candle.
- Use a sturdy candle holder.
- Put the candle holder on a heat resistant, stable and uncluttered surface.
- Keep candles away from curtains and other things that can burn.
- Burn candles in a well-ventilated space, but keep them away from air currents to avoid fast burning and flare-ups.
- Do not drop matchsticks and other objects into the wax pool.
- Keep burning candles out of children's reach and safe from pets.
- Do not leave lighted candles unattended.
"Let's aim for a zero waste and toxics-free commemoration of Undas 2022," the EcoWaste Coalition concluded.