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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 11:45 GMT
Lead candles 'pose health risk'
Candle
UK candles do not use lead
Candles containing lead could pose a risk to children's health, experts have warned.

Scientific advisers to the European Commission said they may cause damage to the nervous system.

The Commission has issued warned consumers to be aware of the risks.

Lead is used in some candles to help the wicks stand upright in the wax.

But UK manufacturers said lead had not been used in wicks in this country since the mid-1970s, and only a small proportion of imported candles might be affected.

It's been a long-known problem

Malcolm Pryme, Price's candlemakers
The Commission's scientific committee on toxicity, eco-toxicity and the environment investigated the issue after reports from the US, which found 8% of candles tested contained lead.

It said lead emissions from candles represented a "health hazard".

It added: "frequent indoor burning of candles with lead wicks cores may result in a high additional exposure of human to lead in addition to lead exposure from food, dust and other sources.

It added: "Additional lead exposures such as inhalation and ingestion from lead in candle wicks may represent an important source of lead exposure and significantly elevate blood lead levels in children."

Lead may still be found in household fittings, old pipes, soil and food, although it has been removed from paint, and largely from petrol.

Voluntary agreement

Malcolm Pryme, of candle manufacturers Price's, told BBC News Online no UK-based company had used lead in wicks since the mid-1970s.

"It's been a long-known problem, and it's a voluntary agreement in the candle industry not to use it."

Mr Pryme said manufacturers in other EU countries abided by the same code, but he said lead might still be used in products imported in from countries such as China.

The Department of Trade and Industry, which has responsibility for candle safety, said it would study the report.

See also:

07 Jan 03 | Health
06 Feb 03 | Health
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