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Using Eco-Friendly Candles during the Holidays

Whether you’re observing Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, or Kwanzaa, part of your celebration probably includes candles. But while candles warm the heart, they also may damage your lungs, indoor air quality, and the environment.

Here’s why: All candles produce some smoke and soot, which can enter your air passages and cause irritation — or worse if you have respiratory problems. And if the candle contains dyes or fragrance, other toxic particulates may be released. In addition, if the candles were manufactured outside the United States, the wire that supports the wick may contain lead. When burned, the substance enters your airways and is as unhealthy as eating lead chips.

To add insult to injury, candles are most commonly made of paraffin, which comes from petroleum — the same nonrenewable resource that creates the greenhouse gases causing climate change.

Fortunately, you don’t have to snuff out your candle-lighting traditions! Enjoy the holiday glow by:

  • Choosing candles made of beeswax, soy, or vegetable oils.

  • Buying candles made in the United States to assure that the wicks are lead-free.

  • Making sure the lit candles are not placed in drafty areas, which creates more soot.

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