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Health warning issued: CEN 6.06.08 p 7. June 7, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglo-Catholicism may be harmful to your health, a study published in the April 25 issue of the Journal of Clinical and Molecular Allergy reports.

In a study of the health consequences of burning incense, researchers from the Department of Environmental Engineering at Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University found that incense smoke contains pollutants that when inhaled, caused respiratory distress and allergic reactions.

“A typical composition of stick incense consists of 21% (by weight) of herbal and wood powder, 35% of fragrance material, 11% of adhesive powder, and 33% of bamboo stick” the study found and produced four times the amount of particulates as did a cigarette.

“The gas products from burning incense include CO, CO2, NO2, SO2,” and also emitted benzene and other volatile organic compounds. In Taiwan, “the air pollution in and around various temples has been documented to have harmful effects on health from the burning of incense” the study found.

However, the study noted that “there is no association between incense smoke and cancer.” Studies conducted in Hong Kong found “that, although incense was identified as a major source of exposure to nitrogen dioxide and airborne carcinogens, it had no effect on lung cancer risk among nonsmokers and, more intriguingly, it significantly reduced risk among the smokers.”

Scientists sought to explain this apparent anomaly by noting that those who burned incense and smoked cigarettes offset their cancer risks by having “relatively healthy diets.”

Whether the use of bells also ameliorates the health of risks of incense was not addressed in the study.


1. Rev'd Richard M. Bruton - June 16, 2008

As a former Orthodox priest, now an Anglican presbyter, I have said for years now that I had ingested enough incense to kill ten men. Ventilation in many Orthodox churches is often so poor that persons with respiratory conditions such as Asthma and C.O.P.D. are often at risk. We used to have specially ventilated and insulated cupboards in which lit censers were kept during services. I’ve never seen one in any Anglo-Catholic parish I’ve ever had occasion to visit and the incense used by them is of such poor quality that I can see where some folks are at risk, including the clergy themselves. Just another reason to give thanks that I’m Protestant. Been there, smelled that, breathed that.

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