Friday, February 11, 2011

Health Risks from Burning Wood and Coal

Wood stove dog
Image by BarelyFitz via Flickr
In-home Coal and Wood Use and Lung Cancer Risk: A Pooled-Analysis of the International Lung Cancer Consortium (20 page pdf, Environ Health Perspect, 15 September 2010)

Also discussed here: Mapping Particulate Matter in African City (Pollution Free Cities, Jan. 20, 2010)

Also here: Where there’s fire, there’s smoke (Pollution Free Cities, Jul. 22, 2009)

The article reviewed today looks at the use of wood or coal and the health risk posed by the pollutants to those living at home, particularly women. The emissions from particulate matter from wood-burning stoves is a significant problem for outdoor air quality as well, during winter in areas surrounding major cities in Canada and elsewhere.

Key Quotes:

“the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified indoor emissions from household combustion of coal as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), and biomass fuel (primarily wood), as probably carcinogenic to humans”

“The annual global health burden of indoor air pollution from solid fuel use, to which three billion people are exposed worldwide, is estimated to be 1.6 million deaths and over 38.5 million disability-adjusted life years

“Wood smoke has been associated with respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.. Our results are consistent with an association between wood use and lung cancer among females, which seems likely as women tend to spend more time at home and consequently have greater exposures to solid fuel combustion products than men”

“To the extent allowed by measurement error, we were able to control for some important confounders, such as smoking, age and education”

“radon exposure may confound our results given that some geographic locations and household characteristics, such as underground dwellings and ventilation factors, have been associated with lung cancer.. none of our study populations systematically resided in underground dwellings in our populations and that indoor radon levels were at or below background levels where those were measured”
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