Your Scented Candles Could be Dangerous

Candles are a girl's go-to; they make superb spontaneous gifts, sooth us with their blissful scents, provide much-needed mood lighting and block out the smell of who-knows-what wafting through our dormitory hallways. But recent research suggests that they may be doing more harm than good.

If you've been experiencing inexplicable asthma or another respiratory problem, your air-freshener or desktop candle could be to blame. Woman's Day reports on a multitude of scented-product risk factors you should be wary of, ranging from asthma and lung damage to tumors and even DNA alterations due to certain candle chemicals—terrifying. Daily Mail discusses one especially dangerous candle chemical: formaldehyde. According to Daily Mail,  formaldehyde's side effects range from nosebleeds to itchy eyes. Even worse, exposure to the carcinogen is considered a predictor of certain forms of cancer.

And leaving those wicks unlit isn't a solution. Woman's Day warns that the mere presence of chemical-laden candles can expose your body to threats, lit or not. But are these warnings accurate, or overblown?

Recent findings have been dismissed by at least one source: The National Candle Association. In an interview with The Huffington Post, the association asserted that "The safety of scented candles is backed by decades of research, fragrance testing and a history of safe use," adding that "Health and safety studies are conducted for fragrance materials used in candles, including toxicological and dermatological tests." While we wish we could find comfort in these statements, it's important to remember that an association representing candle manufacturers is probably not an unbiased source. 

So what's a girl to do? For now, use caution when purchasing candles, and consider holding back on giving that set of scented tea lights to your mom for Christmas. The good news? Unscented candles appear to be currently in the clear, so if you really need to set the mood this holiday season, you're in luck.