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Consumer watchdog warns: Be careful when buying candles

By Thony Dizon

Toxics Campaigner

Consumer watchdog group BAN Toxics is urging the public to be cautious when buying candles, as the market begins selling various types and sizes of candles, both scented and unscented, made of wax and gel, in preparation for the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

In its latest market monitoring, the group photo documented the selling of candles in Divisoria, Manila. These candles range in price from P35 to P200 each, depending on size and packaging. The group observed that some of the candles do not have proper labeling, such as manufacturers’ markers, ingredient lists, and precautionary statements for product safety.

“We call on the FDA and DTI to conduct post-marketing surveillance to ensure that the candles being offered in the market have met the SRP and the quality and safety standards,” said Thony Dizon, Toxics Campaigner of BAN Toxics.

The group reiterated the health advisory issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2016 against purchasing and using candles with lead-containing wicks, candles in metal containers that contain lead, and wicks used for candle-making that contain lead, as these pose an imminent hazard to public health.

According to the advisory, the purpose of the wick is to deliver fuel (wax) to the flame. Acting like a fuel pump, the wick draws the liquefied wax up into the flame to burn.

“BAN Toxics will continue to monitor the market and identify lead-cored wick candles that could pose dangers to the public due to lead emitted fumes,” Dizon added.

Public health experts have confirmed that lead emissions from any source present health risks and can lead to elevated blood lead levels in unborn babies and young children. As a lead-cored wick candle burns, some of the lead may vaporize and be released into the air, leading to toxic effects such as neurological damage, delayed mental and physical development, and attention and learning deficiencies.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) bans the manufacture and sale of lead-cored wicks and candles with lead-cored wicks. CPSC warned consumers of the potential dangers from exposure to candles containing lead-cored wicks that could inflict lead poisoning hazard to children. In 2002, the Australian Government imposed a permanent ban on candles with wicks that contain greater than 0.06% lead by weight.

To guide the consumers, the group has provided the following safety tips for purchasing and using candles:

1. Always check the label of the candles.

2. Opt for candles with cotton wicks and avoid lighting candles with metal inside the wicks (black or gray-colored metal).

3. Place the candle in a stable holder and refrain from using cardboard, plastic covers, or any flammable materials.

4. Remind children not to play with candles and wax drips to prevent skin burns.

5. When leaving cemeteries, do not leave the candles burning or throw lit candles in the trash to prevent open burning.

6. Make sure to minimize the waste to keep cemeteries trash-free.

The group further reminded the public to observe cleanliness and sway away from littering and trashing the cemeteries as well as columbaries.

“We need to respect the resting place of our departed loved ones by practicing toxic-free and waste-free UNDAS to commemorate the occasion,” the consumer group expressed.


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