Public Cautioned against Poison Candles with Lead-Cored Wicks

A waste and pollution watchdog has warned
the public against poison-emitting candles after detecting excessive
levels of lead, a chemical that can harm the human brain and damage
other body systems, in the candlewicks of 70 out of 115 samples
bought from Chinatown.
an advisory issued ahead of the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’
Day and in time for the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week
of Action on October 20-26, the EcoWaste Coalition revealed that
candles with lead-cored wicks are dangerous, especially to the health
of young children as well as to pregnant women.
group pointed out that such candles with lead-cored wicks would be
illegal to manufacture and sell in the United States, which has
banned such wicks and candles since 2003.

candles with leaded wicks may release toxic fumes into the
surroundings and cause lead exposure via inhalation of airborne lead.
Lead dust may accumulate onto the grounds and other surfaces where
kids gather or play causing exposure,” warned Thony Dizon,
Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

to even small doses of lead can contribute to increased blood lead
level in kids, cause irreparable damage to their brains and bring
about learning disabilities, IQ losses, mental retardation and
behavioral problems later in life,” he said.

is no safe blood lead level in children as scientists have said,”
he added.

confirmed by the World Health Organization, “children are
particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, and even
relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases irreversible
neurological damage.”

pregnant women, lead exposure can harm the developing brain of the
fetus in the womb and even trigger miscarriage,” Dizon added.

October 18 and 19, the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol bought
assorted candle products for P20 to P160/set from 10 retailers in
Binondo, Manila.

analysis of the candles using an X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer
found high levels of lead ranging from 1,178 to 14,900 ppm in the
candlewicks, way above the US limit of 600 ppm for lead in wicks and
for candles with such wicks. On
the average, the 70 candles with lead-cored wicks had 3,671 ppm of

other 45 candles with wicks mostly made of cotton tested negative for
lead and other toxic metals.

results prompted the group to advise consumers to shun candles that
have lead-cored wicks, which can be identified by the darkish fine
metal strand in the center of the white wick.

Consumers were
earlier reminded by the Food and Drugs Administration “to exercise
safety precautions when burning candles,” saying that “cotton and
hemp wicks, as well as metal-free wicks, burn cleanly and safely.”

of the worst candles analyzed that had lead and other chemicals of
concern include:

A red wax candle in a gold ingot-shaped and red-colored plastic
container with 14,900 ppm of lead and 228 ppm of chromium.
A yellow wax candle in a gourd-shaped glass container with 10,300 ppm
of lead and 572 ppm of arsenic.
A white wax candle in a pineapple-shaped glass container with 6,097
ppm of lead and 270 ppm of arsenic.
A red wax candle in a lotus-shaped plastic container with 5,755 ppm
of lead and 148 ppm of arsenic.
A red tealight candle with 4,277 ppm of lead and 134 ppm of arsenic.
A red wax candle in a gold ingot-shaped ceramic container with 4,520
ppm of lead and 32 ppm of mercury.

US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has determined that
candles using lead-cored wicks could present a lead poisoning hazard
to young children and has banned their manufacture and use effective
October 2003.

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.

EcoWaste Coalition said that the government should take cue from US
and other countries that have banned lead-cored wicks and impose a
similar if not more stringent regulation that will prohibit the
production, importation, distribution, sale and use of
lead-containing candles.


(go to FDA Advisory No. 2013-041)