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Some Candle Wicks Can Lead To Health Problems

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RALEIGH — Many people burn candles at home, whether for the scent or the glow and elegance, but what you do not know about them can hurt you.

Studies show that when some candles burn, they release dangerous amounts of lead -- as much as 33 times higher than the level considered acceptable by the federal government.

The biggest concern is that many of the candles burn around young children, who can either inhale the lead fumes or ingest the lead dust that settles on surfaces in a room. Either form of lead could poison their blood.

Ann Brown, head of the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) is very concerned.

"Lead builds up in the body of a young child over time and can cause serious problems including learning disabilities," she says.

Lead poisoning can also cause behavioral, hearing and growth problems.

That is why Brown is now working to ban the sale of candles that contain lead. In the meantime, she wants all of us to get rid of any we may have in our homes.

How can you tell if the candles in your home emit lead? There is really no way to know for sure, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission found all the candles with the lead problem had metal wicks.

You can tell that by peeling back the wick of your candle, and you will see the metal rod. You can see it in the center of the wick just by looking at it. The CPSC says metal wicks are most often used in container, pillar, votive and tea light candles.

While not all metal wicks emit lead, Brown feels the risk to children is serious enough that it is not worth burning any candles that do have one.

"If you have young children in the house, you should never burn candles with metal wicks. Check the candles you have in your home and [if you have candles with metal wicks] either do not burn them or throw them out," Brown says.

Metal wicks are not used in tapers -- the kind commonly used as dinner candles. A lot of retailers have agreed to not sell lead wick candles, but it is still wise to check before you buy - just to be sure.


Monica Laliberte, Reporter
Robert Meikle, Photographer
Lori Lair, Producer

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