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

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Research by scientists in Demark has shed new light on the potential health effects associated with air pollutants being released from burning wood in the home.

Their study, published in Chemical Research in Toxicology, found that invisible particles in wood smoke that are inhaled into the lungs, could have several adverse health effects.

There is a body of evidence that currently links the inhalation of fine particles from outdoor air pollution, known as particulate matter, with a range of adverse health effects.

However, relatively little evidence exists concerning the health effects of particulate matter from wood smoke, despite millions of people routinely inhaling wood smoke from heating and cooking in the home.
The researchers analysed levels of particulate matter in a Danish village where most residents used log fires and wood stoves. They found that airborne particles in the village were of a potentially hazardous size and were small enough to be inhaled deep inside the lungs. The particulate matter also included chemicals that may cause cancer, damage to DNA and a stress response in the lungs.

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