It’s Valentine’s Day and you may have romantic plans for tonight. Before you get your heart set on a candlelit dinner, though, you might want to reconsider.
Even though they’re great at setting a mood, many candles and incense are unhealthy. Some wicks are made with metals, like lead. Also, candles that are made of paraffin wax, a petroleum byproduct, give off toxic chemicals when burned. 1
The fumes from candles and other air freshening products actually create a lot of pollution inside a home. Did you know that air inside a home is two to five times more polluted than air outside a home? 2
If you happen to use air fresheners – either a plug-in kind or a spray – you’re adding a lot of toxic pollution, too, including a host of carcinogens and other chemicals like phthalates.3 In his 1999 study “Far From Fragrant,” R. Edwards noted a survey of 14,000 pregnant women in the United Kingdom:
“In homes where air fresheners and aerosol sprays were used on most days, women experienced twenty-five percent more headaches and nineteen percent more post-natal depression than women in homes where such products were used less than once a week. Babies under six months old who were exposed to air fresheners on most days had thirty percent more ear infections and a twenty-two percent greater chance of diarrhea than babies exposed less than once a week.” 4
While the study doesn’t prove that air fresheners alone caused all the health problems, a link seems highly probable.
I’m not advocating a totally green Valentine’s Day with fair trade chocolates, free range meat and organic cotton tablecloth and napkins. But I am suggesting a healthy one. Try to find soy-based candles or 100 percent beeswax candles without metal wicks. You just might breathe a little easier.
For those of you who plan to go all the way in your Valentine’s celebration, so to speak, keep in mind that some brands of personal lubricants contain parabens or toxins like the formaldehyde releasing agents DMDM Hydantoin and diazolidinyl urea. The good news is that according to the Cosmetic Safety Database, all lubricants only contain low or moderate hazards. (If you’re still concerned and would like an all-natural alternative, try coconut oil.)
Happy Valentine’s Day!
1. “For Your Home: Household Cleaners.” The Naked Truth Project. Consumer Products Guide.
2. “A Healthy House.” The Naked Truth Project.
3. “Women and Household Cleaning Products.” Women’s Voices for the Earth.
4. “Far From Fragrant.” R. Edwards. New Scientist, September 4, 1999.
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