During these cold winter months, it is tempting to bring candles or scented products into your classroom or workspace to create a warm, cozy atmosphere. However, doing so may affect the health and safety of your staff and students.
Although these items add a welcoming warmth and glow, they can also contribute to indoor air pollution.
Keep Your School Fragrance-Free
To maintain an optimally healthy indoor environment in schools, we strongly discourage the use of any types of candles. We also recommend that staff refrain from using anything else that introduces unnecessary chemicals into the air, including:
- Scented plug-ins
- Air fresheners
Scents Can Sicken
Thousands of natural and synthetic chemicals are used in scents; some of them are proven irritants, toxins, allergens, reproductive toxins, or even carcinogens. It also has been found that there is a strengthening effect when multiple allergens are used together.
While these harmful emissions are typically low and do not pose a significant threat to your health, they may trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks in sensitive individuals. According to national statistics, an average 10% of students have some degree of asthma.
Symptoms of exposure to emissions from burning candles may include itchy and watery eyes, sore throat, blocked nasal passages, headaches, hives, skin irritations, and difficulty breathing. Any of these symptoms may interfere with a student’s learning.
The American Lung Association (ALA) encourages organizations to establish fragrance-free policies as one of their main components of creating a “Lung Healthy Work Environment.” They note that “fragrances can and do affect indoor air quality,” as well as posing health hazards for employees with allergies and chronic lung diseases. The ALA provides several resources for establishing such a policy on their website.
We want to create a healthy environment that is conducive to student and staff engagement.
For additional information on this topic, contact our industrial hygienist, Elizabeth Jakab, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 917-7640, or review our Scents and Indoor Air Quality handout.