Burning Candles and Fumes from Cooking Are Harmful for People with Asthma

A new study from the Department of Public Health at Aarhus University suggests that you should be cautious about inhaling too much of the cozy atmosphere especially if you have asthma. Karin Rosenkilde Laursen  co-author of the study, says:

“Our study shows that indoor air pollution caused by fumes from cooking and burning candles can lead to adverse health effects such as irritation and inflammation in young individuals with mild asthma. Among other things, we’ve found indications of DNA damage and signs of inflammation in the blood.”

When we turn on the oven, place a pan on the hob, or light candles, ultrafine particles and gases are produced, which we then inhale. Previous studies have shown that these particles and gases can be detrimental to health. What sets this study apart is that the researchers have focused on the effects on young individuals with mild asthma, aged between 18 and 25, says Karin Rosenkilde Laursen:

“In the study, we observed that even very young individuals with mild asthma can experience discomfort and adverse effects if the room is not adequately ventilated during cooking or when burning candles. Young people are generally fitter and more resilient than older and middle-aged individuals. Therefore, it is concerning that we observed a significant impact from the particles on this particularly young age group.”

“Even though the study focused on young asthmatics, its findings are interesting and relevant for all of us. Winter is approaching, a time when we tend to light many candles and perhaps are less likely to open doors and windows while cooking. By prioritizing a healthier indoor climate, even when we’re cosying up indoors, we may be able to help reduce the incidence of serious lung and cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer.”

Karin Rosenkilde Laursen plans to follow up this study with another examining how emissions from cooking and candles affect healthy adults.


Karin Rosenkilde Laursen, Nichlas Vous Christensen, Frans AA Mulder, Jörg Schullehner, Hans Jürgen Hoffmann, Annie Jensen, Peter Møller, Steffen Loft, Anna-Carin Olin, Berit B. Rasmussen, Bernadette Rosati, Bo Strandberg, Marianne Glasius, Merete Bilde, Torben Sigsgaard. Airway and systemic biomarkers of health effects after short-term exposure to indoor ultrafine particles from cooking and candles – A randomized controlled double-blind crossover study among mild asthmatic subjects. Particle and Fibre Toxicology, 2023; 20 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12989-023-00537-7

Aarhus University. “Burning candles and fumes from cooking is harmful for people with mild asthma.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 August 2023. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/08/230831121728.htm>.

Images from:

Photo by David Tomaseti