Praying for Life

09 April 2007 |

As the Smoke Kills...

The burning of incense releases high levels of some chemicals associated with lung cancer, findings over the past five years indicate.

Incense, used primarily for religious, medicinal and meditative purposes, was found to create air quality environments hazardous to human health, according to reports by New Scientist magazine.

A set of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are of primary concern. While organic and often aromatic, PAH include carcinogenic chemicals such as the components of benzene and the chemical used in mothballs.

A 2001 study by the National Cheng Kung University of Taiwan surveyed the air quality inside a poorly-ventilated temple and found benzopyrene levels that are 40 times greater than what is found inside of the homes of people who smoke cigarettes. The air quality in the temple was almost as bad as standing next to a busy intersection filled with car exhaust.

Another report says:
Benzene and methyl chloride was the most abundant species in temple air. It is concluded that incense burning in temples is a significant source of air pollution. It is suggested that visitors may decrease the amount of incense burnt and better with the period short in the temple, especially during peak periods in order to reduce the health impact.

Acute (short-term) exposure to high concentrations of methyl chloride in humans has caused severe neurological effects. Methyl chloride has also caused effects on the heart rate, blood pressure, liver, and kidneys in humans. Chronic (long-term) animal studies have shown liver, kidney, spleen, and central nervous system (CNS) effects. Inhalation studies have demonstrated that methyl chloride causes reproductive effects in male rats, with effects such as testicular lesions and decreased sperm production.

Incense sticks have been linked to cancer, asthma and dermatitis (a skin rash). One study reported that foetus or nursing infants whose parents burned incense had a higher chance of getting leukaemia (a cancer of the blood organs). Carbon monoxide, benzene (which can cause cancer, leukaemia and damage the developing foetus) and fine particles (“particulates”) are also released when incense is burnt.

Say No to Incense Smoke


Kerry said...

This is true and a problem with incense that has been made from synthetic materials (which the vast majority is). Try natural incense, as it was intended to be used, like resins, dried leaves, stems, etc. You may check out my book on this just being released: The Incense Bible.