Health Threats from Wood Smoke Particles


Oxidative Stress, DNA Damage, and Inflammation Induced by Ambient Air and Wood Smoke Particulate Matter in Human A549 and THP-1 Cell Lines (Abstract, Chemical Research in Toxicology, Feb. 5, 2011)

Also discussed here:  Air Pollutants from Fireplaces and Wood-Burning Stoves Raise Health Concerns (Science Daily,  Feb. 5, 2011)

And here: Where there’s fire, there’s smoke (Pollution Free Cities, July 22, 2009)

And here: Health Risks from Burning Wood and Coal (Pollution Free Cities, Sep. 28, 2010)

Today’s journal review article is very timely for northern communities such as Ottawa or Montreal in Canada, where wood burning stoves and fireplaces are widely used. And yet as the article points out, the health impacts of the fine particulates in wood smoke are not as well reseached or recognized as the health threats from pollution from diesel trucks and buses.

Key Quotes:

“abundant scientific evidence linking inhalation of fine particles of air pollution — so-called “particulate matter” — from motor vehicle exhaust, coal-fired electric power plants, and certain other sources with heart disease, asthma, bronchitis and other health problems. However, relatively little information of that kind exists about the effects of wood smoke particulate matter (WSPM)”

“We assessed a wide spectrum of toxicity end points in human A549 lung epithelial and THP-1 monocytic cell lines comparing WSPM from high or low oxygen combustion and ambient PM collected in a village with many operating wood stoves and from a rural background area”

“the invisible particles inhaled into the lungs from wood smoke may have several adverse health effects”

“Airborne particles in the village and pure WSPM tended to be of the most potentially hazardous size — small enough to be inhaled into the deepest parts of the lungs”

“WSPM contained higher levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which include “probable” human carcinogens. When tested on cultures of human cells, WSPM also caused more damage to the genetic material, DNA; more inflammation; and had greater activity in turning on genes in ways linked to disease”

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