Skip to comments.Holy Smoke: Burning incense, candles pollute air in churches
Posted on 08/23/2006 7:21:50 PM PDT by elkfersupper
Incense and candles release substantial quantities of pollutants that may harm health, a detailed new study of air quality in a Roman Catholic church suggests.
Even brief exposure to contaminated air during a religious service could be harmful to some people, says atmospheric scientist Stephan Weber of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Essen, Germany. A previous study in the Netherlands indicated that the pollutants in smoke from incense and candles may be more toxic than fine-particle pollution from sources such as vehicle engines.
Numerous studies have examined the health effects of combustion by-products from major outdoor sources, such as automobiles and power plants. Researchers have also examined some sources of indoor pollution, including stoves. But there have been few investigations of the health consequences of candles and incense, even though they are usually lit indoors, sometimes in crowded spaces with limited ventilation.
Weber conducted the new study in St. Engelbert Church in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany. The church staff burns candles during each mass and incense on some holidays.
Weber installed two devices that continuously sampled air during a 13-day period that began on Christmas Eve of 2004. The equipment measured concentrations of particles up to 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) and also those 1 µm or smaller (PM1), which endanger people's hearts, lungs, and arteries (SN: 8/2/03, p. 72: http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20030802/bob8.asp).
During the study, incense burners and candles were lit for services at midnight on Christmas Day, on the morning of the following day, and on New Year's Eve. During services on other days, only candles burned.
Concentrations of both types of particles almost doubled during services that used only candles. Simultaneous use of incense and candles raised the concentration of PM10 to about seven times that recorded between services, and PM1 reached about nine times its background abundance.
Particulate-matter concentrations quickly dropped after the candles were extinguished, but remained elevated for 24 hours after simultaneous use of candles and incense, Weber reports in an upcoming Environmental Science & Technology.
Even the relatively modest increase linked to candles concerns Theo de Kok of Maastricht University in the Netherlands. In past experiments, he and his collaborators found that PM10 from candles might be especially harmful because, in the body, unidentified constituents of the smoke readily generate free radicals that damage cells.
After candles had burned in a Dutch chapel for 9 hours, particles in the air there formed 10 times as many free radicals as airborne particulates collected along busy roadways do, de Kok's group reported 2 years ago.
"Even after relatively short exposure, you can expect acute health effects" in susceptible groups, such as shortness of breath in people with asthma, de Kok says. He adds that he knows of no study examining whether groups such as priests and frequent churchgoers have elevated rates of cancer or other pollution-associated health problems.
Incense isn't used exclusively for religious purposes. Some people who live in cramped quarters burn incense to mask household odors, de Kok notes. In fact, an incense-using student originally proposed the study that de Kok's group conducted.
The even thicker clouds of incense we Easterners use don't seem to have much ill effect on the longevity of our monks and bishops, who breath lots more of the sweet smelling incense than laymen or even priest, deacons or those of us in minor orders.
Of course, maybe it's the parafin candles the Latins use. . .we make a point of using beeswax.
Candles in the Latin Rite are supposed to be at least 51% beeswax. Beeswax smokes a LOT more than paraffin, BTW.
I was wondering when the anti-smoking lobby would target the churches.
Of course it does. (Beeswax smoking more, that is.)
Is the rubric calling for 51% beeswax followed? Candles on Latin altars always look so white!
They have been going after every little thing that lends a tiny bit of joy to life.
Now, they're going after the very meaning.
I'm still convinced it's going to take a shooting war to straighten all of this out.
What about the last 2000 years in churches? What about the pioneers who only had candles and lanterns? What about ...? What about this nitwit?? Honestly, spare us.
Come on in and get the candles, buddy.
Nothing is sacred anymore.
I wonder what will happen when they start going after the electric grid. They expect us to live in dark caves?
It was only a matter of time.
I'm surprised it took them this long, quite honestly.
Sheesh, this is getting ridiculous.
bump for later
Another brain-dead attack on religion by the left.
Last year, I was listening to the radio news, and was amazed to hear another "serious" study that was also attacking the Church. It said that Catholic schoolgirls who wore the typical Catholic schoolgirl uniforms to school were more likely to attract the attention of men who have a fetish for such things. As a result, Catholic schoolgirls at greater risk for potential "trouble". The conclusion of the "study" was that perhaps it would be better if Catholic schoolgirls stopped wearing the uniforms, and simply wore regular clothes to school, like everyone else. Another little incremental step to take away Catholic identity.
I was flabbergasted at the rank stupidity of such assertions. The thing is, the anti-religous idiots who came up with this stuff probably thought they were being subtle.
And now this. We can't have candles and incense in Catholic Masses anymore because of the horrible pollution to which it exposes the faithful. What rubbish!! What will "they" think of next??
They envy the fact that some people find joy in living, and meaning in life.
The goal of some - not all - scientists is to destroy that joy and meaning.
"Nothing is sacred anymore."
Campfires and Bar-b-que are next.
How about the aerosol sized droplets formed when a toilet is flushed?
I have seen candles in many restaurants, but I have never seen them in a restaurant that serves lots of beans like a barbecue place.>