Despite the frequent association with well-being and relaxation, incense is nonetheless harmful to health, Test Achats pointed out on Tuesday.
This announcement follows its analysis of a range of incense products sold over the internet or in shops, which has led the consumer group to call on the minister of health Maggie De Block to have eight of them withdrawn from sale. It also recommends banning the sale of such products to customers under 18 years of age, as is the case with tobacco.
"Fundamentally, there is hardly any difference between burning these products and smoking in the home," Test Achats reports. Once lit, some sticks or cones release a number of "often very harmful, undesirable substances into the air," the report adds. In this context, the group cites the carcinogenic substances benzene and formaldehyde as well as naphthalene.
"The fine particles emitted cause breathing difficulties, while acrolein is a strong irritant. Finally, incense also releases carbon monoxide. All these emissions can lead to headaches, dizziness, nausea and irritation of the eyes and lungs."
Test Achats had initially warned the authorities on this subject in 2004, then again in 2013. European standards relevant to the methodology for the testing of combustion products and the interpretation of results were adapted.
"Unfortunately, six years later, it should be noted that indoor pollution is still a serious public health problem," the group explained. It is therefore calling on minister De Block to withdraw eight particularly problematic incense products from sale immediately, and to ban the sale of incense to persons under 18. It is furthermore demanding better labelling and action to inform the public.
The Brussels Times