Combustion particles emitted during church services: Implications for human respiratory health

Hsiao Chi Chuang, Tim Jones, Kelly BéruBé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Burning candles and incense generate particulate matter (PM) that produces poor indoor air quality and may cause human pulmonary problems. This study physically characterised combustion particles collected in a church during services. In addition, the emissions from five types of candles and two types of incense were investigated using a combustion chamber. The plasmid scission assay was used to determine the oxidative capacities of these church particles. The corresponding risk factor (CRf) was derived from the emission factor (Ef) and the oxidative DNA damage, and used to evaluate the relative respiratory exposure risks. Real-time PM measurements in the church during candle-incense burning services showed that the levels (91.6μg/m3 for PM10; 38.9μg/m3 for PM2.5) exceeded the European Union (EU) air quality guidelines. The combustion chamber testing, using the same environmental conditions, showed that the incense Ef for both PM10 (490.6-587.9mg/g) and PM2.5 (290.1-417.2mg/g) exceeded that of candles; particularly the PM2.5 emissions. These CRf results suggested that the exposure to significant amounts of incense PM could result in a higher risk of oxidative DNA adducts (27.4-32.8 times) than tobacco PM. The generation and subsequent inhalation of PM during church activities may therefore pose significant risks in terms of respiratory health effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-142
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironment international
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Candles
  • Church
  • ETS
  • Incense
  • Particulate matter
  • ROS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


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