» Drug, Devices, and Supplements

» Physician Accountability

» Consumer Product Safety

» Worker Safety

» Health Care Delivery

» Auto and Truck Safety

» Global Access to Medicines

» Infant Formula Marketing


More Public Citizen Information on Lead Wick Candles

Statement on Ban on Lead Wick Candles

Ban on Lead Wick Candles Welcome, Long Overdue

February 14, 2001

Statement of Peter Lurie, M.D., M.P.H., Deputy Director, Public Citizen's Health Research Group, on Decision by Consumer Product Safety Commission to Ban Candles with Lead Wicks

The unanimous 3-0 vote by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to grant Public Citizen's petition to protect consumers from lead poisoning by banning hazardous candles with lead wicks is both welcome and long overdue. While consumers wait for the CPSC to complete the long-delayed process that it is just now starting, they can take actions to protect themselves from the dangers of lead-wicked candles. Because lead wick candles are indistinguishable from candles with wicks made from other metals, consumers should stop buying candles with metal wicks, not burn the ones they have and return them to the store, unless there is clear proof that they do not contain significant quantities of lead.

In 1973, Public Citizen petitioned the CPSC to ban lead-wicked candles. The agency denied the petition, relying instead on a voluntary agreement with the candle industry to stop making lead wick candles.By the late 1970s, however, the manufacture and sale of lead wick candles resumed, exposing millions of children to the well-documented neurological and developmental dangers of lead. Consequently, on Feb. 24, 2000, Public Citizen again petitioned the CPSC to ban lead wick candles and order a recall of all metal-wicked candles. The CPSC has now granted that petition.

While she voted to grant the petition, Commissioner Mary Sheila Gall also voted to refer it to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This delaying tactic is unacceptable because it could result in children continuing to be exposed to toxic levels of lead.

Lead wicks are unnecessary in candles, and the industry has acted recklessly by continuing to manufacture them. Now the agency should complete the notice and comment necessary to complete the rulemaking as rapidly as possible.

Copyright © 2016 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.

Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation


Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.


To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.