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SINGAPORE, August 4, 2001: In response to the Taiwanese study which found levels of cancer-causing chemicals in temple smoke that were 19 times higher than in normal outdoor air, the Environment Ministry (ENV) has said that Singaporeans can carry on burning incense as it will not harm their health. ENV's spokesman said the ministry has monitored the levels of PAHs in air since 1996 and they were lower than in cities in the United States and Europe. PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, are chemicals that are given off when certain substances, including tobacco, are burned. ENV also said that if enclosed areas are ventilated sufficiently the smoke would be dispersed and the carcinogens would not build up to harmful levels. The ministry has previously carried out tests on the burning of joss sticks and in some instances, minute traces of some heavy metals were detected. However, the ENV spokesman said that levels emitted do not constitute a health risk. Three years ago, ENV also set stricter rules on burning incense, limiting the length and width of large joss sticks, including barring the burning of large joss sticks and candles within 30 meters of any building.