Dear Father, Who Art in Heaven, Polluted Be Thy Air
Church air may be bad for believers’ lungs
Whatever its effects on your soul, spending lots of time in church may be bad for your lungs, according to a new study out of Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Researchers measured air quality in a small chapel and a large basilica and found levels of particulate matter up to 20 times higher than minimal European safety standards. They also found high levels of free radicals — not apostates or latter-day Luthers, but highly reactive molecules that inflame lung tissue. The Dutch scientists trace the problem to poorly ventilated chapels where candles and incense are burned frequently. They warned priests, choir members, and other saintly types who spend lots of time in church to pay heed to good ventilation. The study is part of a growing body of research on the long-neglected subject of indoor air pollution, which can be more harmful than outdoor air and which is regulated poorly, if at all.