Air pollutants from fireplaces and wood-burning stoves raise health concerns

February 6, 2011

With millions of people warding off winter's chill with blazing fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, scientists are raising red flags about the potential health effects of the smoke released from burning wood. Their study, published in the American Chemical Society's (ACS') journal, Chemical Research in Toxicology, found that the invisible particles inhaled into the lungs from wood smoke may have several adverse health effects. It is among 39 peer-reviewed scientific journals published by ACS, the world's largest scientific society.

Steffen Loft, Ph.D., and colleagues cite the abundant scientific evidence linking inhalation of fine particles of — so-called "" — 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), even though millions of people around the world use wood for home heating and cooking and routinely inhale WSPM.

The scientists analyzed and compared particulate matter in air from the center of a village in Denmark where most residents used wood stoves to a neighboring rural area with few wood stoves, as well as to pure WSPM collected from a wood stove. 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.

More information: "Oxidative Stress, DNA Damage, and Inflammation Induced by Ambient Air and Wood Smoke Particulate Matter in Human A549 and THP-1 Cell Lines", Chemical Research in Toxicology.

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2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 06, 2011
Our ancestors must have been really tough characters to have survived without all this studied advice. If the WSPM don't get'cha the AGW will!
1 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2011
Yes. Isn't it strange that throughout human history, man has gathered around fires with no particular illness or injury from the smoke, but now that we have central heating and air conditioning, open fires will doubtless kill us?

I agree that AGW will surely kill us off before fireplaces will, particularly since AGW will negate the need for fireplaces soon.
3 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2011
Nanny state swooping in to save us again. Maybe they could regulate what you put in your fireplace, only government approved logs that meet all of the new rules and regulations. Of course if you need a waiver all you have to do is lobby the hell out of those that wear the ring you must kiss on bended knee.
not rated yet Feb 06, 2011
Just how much of this particular kind of 'smoke' is put into the atmosphere as compared to all that created by oil, gas and coal?
I doubt it is comparable in volume and it sure smells a lot better than diesel exhaust!
not rated yet Feb 06, 2011

Ancient Rome had better fireplaces than America!

wiki masonry stove or heater

Masonry Heaters output of about one p m million (if i remember #'s correctly) because they have a secondary combustion chamber.

And, yeah, our government SHOULD outlaw the current fireplace design that we in the U. S. of A. use. It simply sucks cold air into the house, makes nice cracking sounds and smells nice if it doesn't burn you house down with suet buildup and otherwise spits suet out into the atmosphere.

not rated yet Feb 14, 2011
Jebus guys! It sure doesn't take much for you to slip down the slope to regulation. Paranoid much? Where does it recommend a ban on fires in the article? It's like you people don't want to know what hurts you. It's like you don't want the human species to learn how to improve its survival.

I have a wood burning stove that I use every day. I would like to delay the onset of cancers in my body. I appreciate this article. This article is EXACTLY why I come to physorg every day. Why are you conspiracy theorists / misologists here, exactly?

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