November 21, 2004

Health warning: Churchgoing kills.

Going to church could seriously damage your health, according to researchers at Maastricht University. The air inside a church contains high levels of carcinogens and up to 20 times the European limit of PM10s.

The researchers analysed the particulate matter concentration found in the air of a small chapel and a large basilica in Maastricht following lengthy use of candles or a simulated service in which incense was burned.

Fine particulate matter is a major ingredient in air pollution. Consisting of solid particles with a diameter of 10 microns or less, it contains different types of toxic chemicals, including soot, metals and various carcinogenic molecules.

The particles can penetrate very deep into the lungs and trigger various lung and heart conditions.

The researchers found that, after nine hours of candle-burning, the church air had PM10 levels of 600 to 1000 micrograms per cubic metre - more than four times higher than before the start of the first morning mass.

This represents 12 to 20 times the European allowed average concentration over 24 hours.

The study also found very high concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, also known to be carcinogenic.

Will the Irish government use EU legislation to ban incense in churches (which are, after all, a workplace) the same way it's banned smoking in pubs? Will wayside pulpits be replaced with health warnings, and will churches which advertised without mentioning the dangers be liable for damages?

Church air is 'threat to health' - BBC News, 20th November 2004 (thanks to Novice Nun the Wiser).

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This page contains a single entry by Feòrag published on November 21, 2004 8:27 AM.

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