Linda Magill Group Safety

Posts Tagged 'safety'

Scented Candles may be polluting your air

DID YOU KNOW… Scented candles may be polluting your air?

Candles are everywhere. They come in all shapes, colours, sizes and even scents. The candles may be used for emergency situations, church services, mood lighting or maybe just placed around the house to help make the air smell nice.

In the past, the candles were mainly made with all natural beeswax. The beeswax on its own has a pleasing scent to begin with so the need for further scents was not always necessary.

If there was a need to add another scent to the candle it would have been done by adding natural resources like flowers or herbs.

Now, forward to present day, and you will find that most of the scented wax candles found in stores are made out of a wax called paraffin wax.

What is paraffin wax?

Paraffin Wax

Paraffin Wax

Good question.

Paraffin is the residue left over during the refining process of lubrication oil. It is a white, waxy solid that has no odour or taste.

Paraffin wax is a petroleum based product. Studies show that when the paraffin wax is burned, the smoke and fumes contain a lot of the same properties of the exhaust from a car engine.

There is also much more soot produced with paraffin wax candles compared to other candles such as those made of  beeswax or soy wax. If you find a build-up of soot on the walls or ceilings around candle use, it may be an indicator that the candle is made of paraffin wax.

So how do the candles smell so good?

Those nice aromas coming from the scented candles at the stores now are made with artificial oils and chemicals. The chemicals and artificial oils are added to the paraffin wax to give the wax a scent.

Furthermore, if the candle wax has colour in it, then there would have been more chemicals added for the artificial colouring as well.

Studies are now showing that these added chemicals and artificial oils are significantly adding to the pollutants expelled from the burning candles. Several different studies have found that burning candles, scented candles especially, release many different toxins into the air.

One study found that some candles that were tested released almost as many toxins as cigarette smoke. Another study found that an air sample taken from a church where candles had been burning for 9+ hours had contained as many and similar pollutants as an air sample taken from the side of a highway.

People who suffer from asthma may find that asthmatic symptoms can be triggered or worsened by the fumes given off of some scented candles.

So what toxins where actually detected while burning candles?

The petroleum based paraffin candles studied were found to release a variety of toxins into the atmosphere when lit.

Most notably benzene, toluene, lead and ketone were all found in the candle fumes, smoke and soot. Some of the other toxins detected were styrene, ethyl benzene, naphthalene, acetyaldehyde, benzaldehyde, ethanol and methyl ethyl ketone.

Lead was found to be much higher in the candles that had metal core wicks. These are the wicks with a metal wire in the center of the wick to help keep them from falling into the wax when burned.

All of these toxins listed above are known cancer causing agents.

Some food for thought, the soot from a diesel engine has the same characteristics as the soot from some of the candles tested…..

What can you do?

Just like everything in life, moderation is key. If you burn a candle once in a while in a well-ventilated area, there is probably little, if anything, to worry about.

On the other hand if you are burning several scented candles regularly, in a small confined area (say a bathroom), it might be wise to open the windows and turn on a fan for ventilation.

Here are some tips for safe candle use:

  • Keep the wick low as possible, long wicks produce more soot
  • Use in well ventilated areas, open a window if possible
  • The most chemicals are released when the candle is blown out. If possible use a device such as a snuffer to minimise the smoke released

Try to avoid:

  • Candles made from paraffin wax
  • Scented candles with artificial oils
  • Wicks with metal cores (metal wire in the middle of the wick)
  • Candles made outside North America, where laws about production with lead might be lax

Look for:

  • Bees wax candles
  • Soy based candles
  • Scented with essential oils
  • Lead free wick
  • Candles made in north America where it is illegal to use lead in production

© Linda Magill Group 2014, All rights reserved


abc15 – Can burning candles make you sick

CNN – Study: Some types of candles may pollute indoor air

Health Canada – Candle safety

Green America – Are your candles toxic – US Scented Candle Study

Science Direct

South Carolina State University – Frequent use of certain candles produces unwanted chemicals

Posted in: News

10 Safe Buying and Selling Tips for Kijiji / Craigslist

1. Don’t give out personal information
Avoid listing any personal information on Kijiji or other online classified sites. Most of the classified websites, if not all, offer to act as the middle man for initial communication between potential buyers and sellers. An account is set up, and the potential buyer will leave a message for the seller with information for further communication. There is no need to list your name, phone number, address, email or any other personal information. Give only the necessary information to sell the product or service. Also, be aware that a full name and address can be obtained simply from a reverse-lookup of a home phone number; you can use this, but so can the other party.

2. Google the Buyer/Seller’s name
It’s not a bad idea to do a quick Google search of the name of the other party. Just type their name in the Google search bar and see what comes up. If they have a past with the law, it will likely come up in a search and help you  avoid a sketchy transaction.

3. Always bring a friend with you
Have a friend come with you to buy/sell the items. The safety in numbers can remove the opportunity for a bad situation.

4. Ask about history of item being sold
Let’s be honest here, we don’t know for sure that the items being sold are not stolen or acquired illegally. Don’t be afraid to ask about the merchandise before you buy. If you get the vibe that something doesn’t feel right, maybe it’s something you might want to pass on.

5. Meet during daylight hours
We live in a busy world, and we all seem to be in a race against time. We work all day, then come home to make dinner, feed the kids, clean up after dinner, and the list goes on with many more routine tasks that fill up the day. Sometimes it may seem that a late evening meeting would be more convenient; but is it really necessary? Stay visible in well-lit areas when possible.

6. Meet in a public place
Make arrangements to meet in a public place to show or sell items. Consider meeting in a parking lot of large chain store, a coffee shop or even at a park. There is no need to show a complete stranger the valuables you have in your house, or introduce a complete stranger to your family’s home unnecessarily.

7. Use generic photos
There is no benefit to including identifying information in the pictures such as people, pets or front of houses with street numbers. Pictures should show the items in question with little else in the picture. Again, why show the contents of your home to strangers unnecessarily?

8. Payment
It is not uncommon to meet at a bank for exchanges for large amounts of money. It feels more secure and makes for a great public place to meet when purchasing from people on Kijiji or Craigslist.

9. Use common sense
When listing valuable items, take the precautions necessary to ensure your safety. Expensive jewelry, pricy electronics and other valuables can attract individuals with less than friendly intentions. Follow the steps above and remove opportunities to be a victim.

10. Follow your gut
If something feels off, and you don’t feel like things are on the up and up, get out. Is it really worth it to put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation? Probably not. If your Spidey senses start tingling, get out.

D. Magill
Linda Magill Group
May 16, 2013

Posted in: News

$1.5 Million Fine for Workplace Accident in Alberta

SSEC Canada Ltd has been ordered to pay $1.5 million, one of the largest fines ever imposed, in relation to a workplace accident that occurred in Alberta.

The accident took place in 2007 when SSEC made decisions related to the building of a holding tank. This is just the first of an upward trend in sentencing for serious workplace accidents in Canada.

$1.5 Million Penalty for Workplace Accident in Alberta
SSEC Canada Ltd., the Canadian subsidiary of Sinopec Shanghai Engineering, has been ordered to pay $1.5 million in relation to a workplace accident that killed two foreign nationals and injured three others in Alberta. The fine is widely being reported as the largest fine imposed for a workplace accident in Alberta.

According to an agreed statement of facts filed with the court, SSEC Canada Ltd. was contracted by Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) to build holding tanks at the Horizon Oil Sands Project near Fort McMurray, Alberta. SSEC Canada Ltd. recruited 132 Chinese citizens to provide the necessary labour, but their entry into Canada was delayed and the project fell behind schedule. In order to address the delay, SSEC Canada Ltd. proposed to assemble the tank walls and roof support structure at the same time, rather than to assemble the roof after the walls as originally planned. The proposal was not certified by an engineer. CNRL agreed to the proposed change, but amended the contract to require the work to be supervised by its team to ensure quality and safety. However, SSEC Canada Ltd. began using the new assembly method before CNRL employees arrived to supervise. Three weeks later on April 24, 2007, a tank roof collapsed when tensioned cables providing stability to the roofing structure snapped in high winds. Two workers were killed and three other workers received minor injuries.

Following an investigation, 53 charges under Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act were laid against SSEC Canada Ltd., CNRL, and another company. After a lengthy and ultimately unsuccesful challenge to the jurisdiction of the courts, SSEC Canada Ltd. pleaded guilty to three charges in September, 2012. On January 24, 2013, the company was fined $200,000 and ordered to pay $1.3 million to fund a program to educate foreign workers about their rights under occupational health and safety laws.

The fine against SSEC Canada Ltd. is one of the largest fines imposed for a workplace accident in Alberta, and it is part of a upward trend in sentencing for serious workplace accidents in Canada.

Posted in: Workplace Safety