Wood-burning stoves could pose cancer risk

7 February 2011

Using a wood-burning stove in the home could increase a person's cancer and cardiovascular health risk.

According to new research from the Department of Public Health at Copenhagen University, the particulates emitted by wood-burning stoves are small enough to be inhaled into the deepest parts of a person's lungs and could pose a similar threat to their health as exhaust fumes.

The university's Professor Steffen Loft said: "The particles that come from wood smoke can certainly cause fatal heart or lung disease.

"In human cells that were exposed to the particles, substantial DNA damage and mutation took place. It was comparable to the effects of particles given off by traffic."

His team's research, which was published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, shows that while the full-scale health risk of wood-burning stoves is not known, some sensitive patients - such as those with asthma - were already starting to feel the impact of the heating method's proliferation.

Recently, a study from the University of Minnesota and the National Chemical Association showed that smoking can kick-start DNA damage in as little as 30 minutes.

1 Loft, Steffen at al. "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. Monday, January 14th 2011.

2 Hecht, Stephen et al. "Immediate Consequences of Cigarette Smoking: Rapid Formation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Diol Epoxides ". Chemical Research in Toxicology. Monday, December 27th 2010.

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