My problem with candles

I’m allergic to candle smoke. That makes birthdays very challenging times but I manage somehow. They’re rare events anyway, so I don’t have to contend with them too often — of course, the number of candles at each one gets bigger each year. Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to talk about. This is:

Candles are on the increase. They are poisonous. They should be stopped.

I know you probably think I’m kidding but I’m not. Candle smoke contains the same chemicals as the exhaust of a diesel truck including cancer causing agents like benzopyrene and benzene.

I’m lucky in a way. My nose begins to itch almost instantly when I walk into a room where candles are burning (think restaurant, bar, friend’s house). That’s a warning. If I don’t escape quickly, then I get stuffed up after a while and spend the next two or three days with a hacking cough, a sinus headache, and itchy patches on my skin.

Now, I’m not here looking for sympathy — well not too much. I’m here on my soapbox to rail against the oil industry, which is the capitalistic source of paraffin, the main ingredient of candles. Paraffin makes up about 2 or 3% of every barrel of oil. What can an oil company do with that much waste product? Maybe once upon a time they could have dumped it somewhere, maybe a nice wetland, but nowadays Mamma EPA don’t allow no paraffin dumpin’ round here.

So where else can they dump what amounts to millions of tons of solid goo that won’t go into your gas tank? They’re dumping it on the public, convincing homeowners, barkeepers, and restaurateurs that it’s smart to pollute their indoor environments with fumes that would be illegal if they were leaked into a workplace by a diesel engine. And all those gullible people rush out to the local candle shop or even to their local drug store to pick up bag after bag of those damnable little tealight candles.

Listen to me, folks, those little candles pour benzene and benzopyrene into the air you, your friends, and your children breathe. The oil giants have pulled off a great coupe. How did they get rid of their titanic waste problem? They convinced YOU it’s romantic to burn it up in the places where you live and eat and drink. TAH-DAH! Big business gets the little guy to take care of its big problem and nobody’s the wiser.

Well, some of us ARE the wiser. Take me, for instance. There’s hardly a single restaurant in Seattle that I can go to without getting an unpleasant reaction that lasts for days. I’m very aware of how the oil giants are polluting the air all around me. And I know there are plenty of others out there who have this kind of reaction to candles. I’ve met a few and I know that benzene and benzopyrene are the sorts of chemicals that cause reactions in experimental animals. So why wouldn’t they cause problems in the ultimate experimental animals, humans?

I’d love to hear comments on this blog by others who have reactions to candles or know people who do. I have a feeling that the problem may be bigger than even I think it is, and must be spreading about as fast as the number of those evil little tealight candles.

About Tom Hopp

Thomas P Hopp is a scientist and author living in Seattle. He writes medical thrillers, natural disaster novels, and the Dinosaur Wars science fiction series.
This entry was posted in Candle Smokers, Health and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.