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Could Church Air Be Harmful to Your Health?

With the Christmas season quickly approaching, this Dutch study got me wondering about the air quality of churches. Rsearchers claim the air you may be breathing inside a church could be doing you more harm than the air found near a major congested road. In fact, levels of toxic polycyclic hydrocarbons were found to be higher in churches than on busy roads (roads with more than 45,000 cars travelling them per day).

The study also found very high levels of PM10s (very small solid pollutants) in church air. The levels were almost 20 TIMES higher than the limits set by the European Union environmental agencies.

Churches tend to have bad ventilation, and many of them have candles burning for many hours each day non-stop. Sometimes, incense is burned in churches.

Researchers tested the quality of the air in small chapels and large churches. They also carried out simulations in similar-sized rooms (to churches), burned candles and incense and tested the air at intervals. After nine hours of candle burning, the PM10 levels had quadrupled to 600-1,000 micrograms per cubic metre. These levels are about 15 times the European allowed average over a one-day period.

Since the study was done in Europe, it is likely researchers are referring to traditional churches. Being raised Catholic and going to church most of my childhood (and actually being an altar boy), I have strong memories of all the candles and incense that was burned in church. It appears that these produce chemicals that are not very healthy for your lungs. Seems like non-conventional churches not focused on ritual and without candles would be far more conducive to a healthy life.

Medical News Today November 20, 2004

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