Burning scented candles can be harmful; follow cautions.

Like it or not, many of us spend the holidays with someone's fragrant candles blazing someplace. Most people's worst experience after hours of “sugar and spice” or “winter wonderland” is a reminder of how brutal those cheap perfumes can be on the old schnoz.  

New Annals of Medicine and Surgery research, previously reported in The Cut, suggests that cherished tapers may be toxic for some.  

Study authors advise avoiding scented sticks if candle exposure causes dizziness, headaches, respiratory difficulties, watery eyes, sneezing, or a stuffy nose.  

Even if no side effects occur? Just in case, open a window for fresh air. The study found that many candles include substances that may harm health. The first threat is toluene in parrafin candles, or petroleum-based wax.  

“High concentrations of toluene have been linked to a number of health hazards, including effects on the nervous system, the respiratory system, and the developing brain,” research co-author Ariful Haque, MPPS, MPH, said.  

Benzidine is in various candle colors. “A correlation between occupational exposure to benzidine and the development of urinary bladder cancer,” Haque stated.  

Not that you need to throw out your colored candle collection right away—benzidine's hazards arise from long-term candlemaking exposure, not from occasional candle burning.  

Finding out which candles contain benzidine is difficult. Haque and the study's authors prefer natural perfumes over synthetic ones. Soy and beeswax candles are also available, per The Cut.  

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