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Scented Candles May Be Slowly Killing You, Study

Update Date: Jan 19, 2016 12:03 PM EST

In closed rooms, scented candles and air fresheners might lead to the build up of toxic, cancer-causing substances.

Though these substances may be giving a pleasing scent, they may lead to harmful substances causing cancer, according to research  for the BBC series "Trust Me, I'm a Doctor."

Working with Alastair Lewis from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, the "Trust Me, I'm a Doctor" team examined six houses in York, England. They placed samplers in every house to find out which chemicals are polluting the air.

For five days in November, when they closed all their doors and windows due to the cold, the residents of the six houses were asked to note the products they used.

At the end of the study, researchers found that limonene, a chemical that gives a citrus smell to scented candles, air fresheners and similar products, was present most in the atmosphere. While it is not harmful by itself, it reacts with ozone in the air to create formaldehyde.

This substance is associated with certain types of cancer, such as leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancer. It is a "known human carcinogen" too, according to The National Toxicology Program of the Department of Health and Human Services, reports the National Cancer Institute.

In winter, as the houses are closed, residents tend to ingest formaldehyde, which leads to cancer. Putting in four different house plants, especially lavender, in six houses helped to absorb the formaldehyde.

"Our experiment has shown that you have control over the levels of these chemicals in your home. If you want less of a chemical like limonene in the air, then use fewer fragranced products such as air fresheners and scented candles, and choose fragrance-free cleaning products where available," concluded the "Trust Me, I'm a Doctor" .

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