Researchers have tested the air pollution released by incense sticks, and it’s not pretty! Frankincense, myrrh, and nag champa incense are often used in these sticks. Although you may enjoy the scent, these incense sticks can be quite dangerous to your health.
The burning of incense sticks releases two dangerous types of pollution: tiny particulate matter (PM2.5) and dangerous gases.
Incense Sticks Elevate PM2.5 to Hazardous Levels
The burning of incense sticks releases two dangerous types of pollution: tiny particulate matter (PM2.5) and dangerous gases. PM2.5 is particulate matter that is so small it can enter our bloodstream and organs, leading to cancers and heart disease.
Studies show that particulate matter released by burning incense sticks is nearly 5-times higher than cigarettes.
Due to the burning of incense, PM2.5 air pollution in temples was found to be on average over 100-times higher than the WHO recommended limit, reaching hazardous levels.
Common incense burned that create this air pollution includes frankincense, myrrh, and nag champa incense.
Incense Release Formaldehyde and Benzene Into Air
Incense burning can also significantly elevate the concentrations of dangerous VOC gases in the air. A study of temples in Beijing found substantially higher levels of formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, xylene, and TVOC. The formaldehyde and benzene concentrations exceeded the recommended levels of 0.05 mg/m3 by the World Health Organization.
These pollutants have been linked to a number of health problems, including cancer and respiratory problems.
How to Reduce Pollution From Frankincense, Myrrh, Nag Champa Incense
The burning of frankincense, myrrh, and nag champa incense creates substantial pollution dangerous to your health. Ideally, you could stop the pollution at the source. But how can you protect yourself if you have no choice?
If in an environment such as temples that burn incense, wearing an N95 mask can help reduce the amount of cancer-causing PM2.5 you breathe in by over 95%.
HEPA air purifiers are also extremely effective at removing dangerous PM2.5 from the air. Therefore using a HEPA air purifier in environments burning incense will help remove some PM2.5 from the air. In addition, adding a carbon filter to the air purifier can help the purifier remove dangerous gases released from incense including benzene, toluene, and xylene.
Read More: 4 Steps to Choosing an Air Purifier
Lastly, improved ventilation can significantly reduce PM2.5 and VOC concentrations by diluting the polluted air with clean air.
How I Protect Myself
At home, I use the Smart Air Sqair HEPA air purifier with a carbon filter.
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