Monday, September 30, 2013

Incense Can Pollute Your Lungs

Everyone knows that cigarette smoke is bad for your lungs but now an article is saying that burning incense may also be harmful.

Researchers at UNC-CH studied the harmful effects that incense burning has in the United Arab Emirates. These effects included ones involving the eye irritation, nose irritation, throat irritation, skin irritation, asthma, headaches, exacerbation of heart disease, and change in the structure of lung cells.

The article also says that indoor pollution is a world-wide concern. Over 1 million people a year die from COPD that is the result of exposure to pollution from indoor cooking stoves and open hearths. Incense also produces these similar pollutants along with carbon dioxide.

The researchers burned two different types of incense for three hours in a chamber that would be like a typical living room in the UAE.

The researchers then analyzed the levels and concentrations of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and sulfur dioxide.

Human lung cells were then placed in the chamber for 24 hours. When they were studied they showed signs of inflammation that are associated with asthma and other lung issues.

Another concern is that charcoal is usually used to burn the incense. This adds another level of pollutants.

The wood that is used in both types of the studied incense gain their aromatic capabilities from a fungal infection. One type of the incense included many other additives. Both of these forms created very similar forms of pollutants.

As of now, the best suggestions to eliminate the extra pollutants would be better ventilation and using other methods to burn the incense.


Works Cited:
"Chemistry 2011." Chemistry 2011.0rg. N.p., 2 08 2013. Web. 30 Sep 2013. <>.


  1. I was interested in your post as I regularly burn incense around the house. I'm fortunate in the regards that I usually burn them in well-ventilated rooms. Now, I will be sure to ONLY burn them in wide-open spaces. I also found it interesting that the aromatic capabilities of the wood that was used was from a fungal infection.

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