EcoWaste Coalition Pushes Ban on Imported Candles with Leaded Wicks

A watchdog group promoting proactive steps
to prevent and control lead pollution sources urged the Department of Health
(DOH) to stop the continued sale of imported candles with leaded wicks in
Manila’s Chinatown.
Through a letter sent last week to Health Secretary Janette Garin, the EcoWaste
Coalition asked the DOH through the Food and Drugs Administration, which has
jurisdiction over candle products, to immediately ban the manufacture,
importation, distribution and sale of candles with lead-containing wicks to
safeguard public health.
Unlike locally-made candles that has mostly cotton-based wicks, some gel or
paraffin wax Chinese candles contain lead core wicks, which can emit lead fumes
during burning, the group told Garin. 
Based on the group’s latest test buys, some Chinese candles contain from 17,300
to over 100,000 parts per million (ppm) of lead in the metal core wicks.
“It’s not safe to burn candles with leaded wicks, especially for young children
and pregnant women who can be exposed to lead in the smoke and soot,” said
Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect, stressing
that “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered
safe,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
 “Children are most susceptible to the adverse health effects of
exposure to lead,” said Dizon who added that “such exposure can irreparably
damage the developing brain of the fetus in the womb and even
trigger  miscarriage for pregnant women,” he added. 
The group also
informed Garin that samples of candles with lead wicks sent by the EcoWaste
Coalition to the SGS for laboratory analysis in October 2014 found 207,350
ppm of lead in the composite wicks of the samples.
Candles with lead core wicks had been banned since 1999 in Australia, 2001 in
Finland, 2002 in Denmark and 2003 in the USA in to prevent children’s exposure
to lead fumes.
In particular, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has determined
that candles with leaded  wicks could pose a lead poisoning hazard to
young children, prompting the agency to ban such candles since October 2003.
“The Commission finds that metal-cored candlewicks containing more than 0.06
percent lead by weight (or 600 ppm) in the metal and candles with such wicks
are hazardous substances, and that, due to the degree and nature of the hazard
presented by these items, in order to protect the public health and safety it
is necessary to keep them out of commerce,” the CPSC ruling said.
Subsequent health warning from the US CPSC said that “children may then inhale
the vaporized lead, placing them at risk,” adding that “children may also be
exposed to lead by mouthing objects on which lead has settled or by handling
such objects and then mouthing their hands.”
“We hope that Secretary Garin will heed our appeal and order the ban and
removal of dangerous candles with leaded wicks in the market,” Dizon said.
In the meantime, the group urged consumers to choose candles for the upcoming
All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day with care, advising the public to avoid buying and using candles with
metallic core unless certified to be lead-safe, and to
patronize locally-made candles that
are of good quality and non-toxic.