Home > Lifestyle > EnviroHealth > Green tips Updated 04 September 2014 Incense: not so sweet It may smell pleasant and seem innocuous enough, but burning incense contributes to indoor pollution. 0 Shutterstock ~ Related Open the window CO: swift, silent, deadly Start A Health24 blog » Follow Health24 on Facebook » Test Are you envirohealth savvy? » Ask EnviroHealth Expert » Blood Lions: Bred for the Bullet movie trailer The amazing mountains on Pluto All smoke, however sweet-smelling, is unhealthy if inhaled -- and the smoke from burning incense is no exception.A recent study which exposed lung cells to incense smoke was found to produce an inflammatory response similar to when these cells react to cigarette smoke, which triggers asthma and other respiratory problems.Previous research has linked incense smoke with health problems such as eye, nose, throat and skin irritation; respiratory symptoms, including asthma; headaches; exacerbation of cardiovascular disease; and changes in lung-cell structure that might lead to cancer. Indoor air pollution is a serious health issueIndoor pollution, which often gets eclipsed as an environmental health issue by outdoor air pollution, is of great concern to the medical community. Most of us 21st century humans spend the majority of our lives indoors (up to 90% in some cases), so the quality of the air we breathe inside can have a considerable impact on our health. Those most at risk are people exposed to pollutants, including deadly carbon monoxide (CO), from biomass-burning cooking stoves and open hearths. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that more than 1 million people a year die from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) because of this indoor air pollution risk. Burning incense releases similar pollutants, including CO.On a positive note, the scent of incense has happy, calming associations for many people, and is an important element of several traditional religious ceremonies and festivals. Some research suggests that the scent of frankincense, a component of some kinds of incense, helps reduce anxiety and depression Nonetheless, it's probably better to keep incense for occasional use, and not as an everyday way to mask household odours. - Olivia Rose-Innes, EnviroHealth Editor@OliviaRoseInnesPost a question on the EnviroHealth Expert ForumImage of burning incense: Shutterstock More in Lifestyle Improved sunscreen More: EnviroHealthGreen tips advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... From our sponsors Keep an eye on your vision Which skin products are better, ‘medical grade’ or ‘over-the-counter’? Win 1 of 6 R5000 cash prizes Win a R2 000 Skin Renewal voucher Live healthier Exercise benefits for seniors » Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them. No relief for MS » Drug shows promise against MS in mouse study Vitamin D may slow multiple sclerosis Obesity in girls tied to higher MS risk Exercise may not lower women's risk of MS A Harvard study showed no evidence to support the idea that exercise lowers the risk of multiple sclerosis.