Incense sticks are the most common product used in Indian households to pray for peace and prosperity.
The process of offering prayers is incomplete without burning incense sticks. The use of incense sticks is not just confined to customs and culture but the fragrance they spread is refreshing enough to use it beyond spirituality. We are quite unaware of the fact that with the soul-reviving aura it creates, it also causes incense sticks pollution with emissions small enough to penetrate into your lungs. Incense sticks pollution is a major contributor to the degradation of your indoor air quality, putting you at the risk of developing lung cancer.
The smoke of the incense sticks could be as toxic as the smoke of a cigarette. Incense sticks are made of charcoal wood, burning of which results in the emissions of harmful constituents like VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), particulate matter and gases like sulphur dioxide, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and oxides of nitrogen.
Here is how incense stick pollution can take a toll on your health:
- The emissions are highly toxic to cells and can cause changes in DNA and genetic level eventually leading to mutations
- These mutations might be responsible for the development of certain forms of cancer
- Particulate matter and allergens produced by the incense sticks pollution interact with the skin and can cause skin allergies and diseases like dermatitis
- The air pollutants and the irritants in the emissions are counted among the primary causes of asthma and inflammation of lungs
- Babies and children are highly sensitive to incense sticks pollution. Research (by South China University of Technology) suggests that a newborn child is at a risk of developing leukaemia if the mother is exposed to the incense smoke during pregnancy
Frequent exposure to incense sticks pollution leads to symptoms like regular coughing, sneezing and wheezing. In addition to this, it can also result in constant headaches, dizziness and nausea in the longer run.
Contrary to the belief that incense sticks are used to bring health and happiness, they are one of the major contributors to the deterioration of your health. The biggest myth busted revolves around the fact that incense sticks are not actually uplifting the ambience of your space instead incense sticks pollution adds to poor AQI.
To keep incense sticks pollution at bay, start with small changes at a personal level. A better way to use incense sticks is to burn it in a well-ventilated area so that the fumes evacuate through the windows. Keep it away from children as they are more prone to the damaging effects of incense fumes.
This article is part of an awareness initiative by 3min.life and The Logical Indian in the interest of public health.