Burning incense harmful but not subject to controls

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Incense smoke is as toxic as cigarette smoke, experts say, but the product is not subject to control and there is no standard for incense quality.

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According to experts, incense smoke is as toxic as cigarette smoke

According to a Nguoi Lao Dong news report, 90% of incense sticks available on the market are supplied by small production facilities. While the retail price of regular incense sticks ranges from VND40,000 to VND55,000 per pack of 500-600 sticks, incense marketed as “clean” is sold for VND150,000-300,000 per pack.

There are hundreds of incense production facilities in districts 5, 6 and 11 and in Binh Chanh of HCMC.

Ngo Minh Khai, who owns a small incense production unit in District 6, stated that making incense is simple and requires low investment but can bring in large profits. While incense was previously produced manually, machines now do most of the work.

Ingredients for making incense are easy to acquire, Khai noted.

According to those familiar with the field, incense was made with natural ingredients in the past, so it was less harmful. The materials used were straw, sawdust, dried leaves and bagasse, while tangerine and orange peel and wormwood were used to create the aroma.

Some incense producers have returned to using natural ingredients to produce clean incense, and they sell it at higher prices.

Dr. Pham Thanh Quan from HCMC University of Technology pointed out that incense, when burned, produces toxic chemicals that affect the respiratory system and cause coughing, breathing difficulty and runny noses. It is particularly harmful for people with asthma and affects cells, causing damage and cancer, among other things. 

Despite this, incense is not under the management of State agencies. The preventive medicine and industry-trade departments of HCMC have not been tasked with managing incense production or its trading activities.

Nguoi Lao Dong quoted Doan Quang Luan from District 6’s economic unit as saying that management agencies do not inspect the incense business as it is a traditional craft and there is no fixed quality standard.

According to Dr. Quan, mosquito-repellent incense is much more toxic than regular incense as it contains chemicals that kill mosquitoes. The incense is made of sawdust mixed with phosphoric acid and releases P205, which can cause eye and skin allergies. It also contains a carcinogen that can cause lung cancer.

Source: VietNamNet

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