“Define Standards For Incense Sticks” An Open Letter To The Agarbatti Association From Concerned Citizens
June 12th, 2018
Dear Sirs and Madams of the Association,
For years and decades, agarbattis, incense sticks, and dhoops have been an integral part of our daily lives. Not a single day, festival or occasion has gone by where we have not used an agarbatti to pay our respects and obeisance to god or to celebrate our unique cultures and traditions. And though we continued for years, we also discounted one of our grandfathers coughing each time an incense stick was lit, or why one of our children instantly had breathing issues the moment dhoop was lit and spread inside the house
India loses more than 1.2 million people each year to pollution. That’s more than 10 times the number of lives lost to road accidents. Most people think pollution is an outdoor phenomenon, but we spend more than 2/3rds of our time indoors, and increased pollution in our living spaces is having a negative impact on our health. As the air in our cities became more toxic, we installed air quality monitors in our homes. A chance check at the reading of the room when the agarbatti was burning shocked us! We couldn’t believe what we saw, and decided to look further into this matter.
We undertook home experiments, mimicking closely the typical behaviour and usage of users. We lit about 5 agarbattis from popular brands and checked its impact on the ambient air quality. We used a normal home air quality monitor and kept it at a distance and height that is usually observed for a puja room. We also measured only for PM 2.5 and not any VOCs… And there is no doubt: agarbattis are harming the air-quality inside our homes, increasing PM2.5 levels by 5-7X and increasing the health risks to our families especially young children. To summarize, here are the results once again:
With millions of households using agarbatti’s daily, the impact on the nation’s health and its future needs scientific assessment. Besides, as a very strange occurrence, on June 10, “#agarbatti” was trending on social media with paid celebrities and social influencers sharing half studied information on its benefits.
We want the Agarbatti Association and large manufacturers to step up and share tests, define standards and educate millions of consumers on how to use agarbatti safely.
To your comment ( that was posted on our video published on May 29), we would like to reiterate again:
- Have any studies or tests been conducted on the impact of agarbattis and incense sticks burning on ambient air quality inside a house and it’s decay rate?
- While natural products (hopefully all are natural) are used in making agarbattis, are there any manufacturing procedures and materials standards that are followed by the industry? If so what are they?
- Are there any combustion standards that the agarbatti industry subscribes to and follows? If so, can these standards be shared with consumers & us?
- While medicines help combat diseases, they also have side effects which are clearly communicated. Are there any labelling or on pack education that is defined to make the consumers aware of the right usage & precautions they need to take?
We are raising a question to an industry on behalf of millions of Indian mothers & children.
We have immense respect for India’s rich heritage, culture, values, traditions and practices. We appreciate the role religion plays and the customs we follow. But, as the world evolves and environment around us changes, it is important for us to keep up with the times and safeguard the interests of our future – our children. Children are the most impacted by the defining problem of our times: air pollution. While we seek to protect them by keeping them indoors, the air indoors can’t be harming their growth and development. We are sure that you are as concerned about children as we are, and will do everything necessary to give them a healthy home.
Crusaders, 3min.life & The Logical Indian community
(On May 29, we published a video on the impact of burning agarbattis on the PM 2.5 levels indoors. Indoor air pollution is a stark reality, and incense sticks, agarbattis and dhoops have a role to play. While we are not advocating for a ban on these products, we are calling for a meaningful and informed debate on health impacts and how we can collectively work together to find solutions)