It’s a common scenario for many ambiance- and relaxation-seekers. You get home, you light a candle, and you get into “disconnect” mode. Besides the always-prominent message of “never leave an unattended candle burning” that almost every package boasts, there’s no other risk, right?
New research suggests there might be—and it’s a big one: increasing the risk of cancer. A recent study conducted by the National Centre for Atmospheric Science in York, England, examined the presence of volatile organic chemicals in six homes over five days. What they found was that the chemical of limonine (it gives a citrus smell to things like scented candles, scented plug-ins, cleaning products and air fresheners, for starters) and, while it is harmless on its own (it’s actually found in the peels of citrus fruit and other plants), when it hits the air, it produces the carcinogen of formaldehyde.
While that definitely sounds scary, two interesting results of the study might prove to be a bit of a preventive measure: When the researchers placed house plants in the rooms, the formaldehyde levels were greatly reduced, which suggests the plants were actually absorbing the chemicals. In addition, limonine levels increased when doors and windows were shut, which suggests it might be smart to crack open a window the next time you light a candle.