The Dangers of Smoke from Woodstoves
The headline was worthy of Fox News, proclaiming dramatically, “Wood Stoves May Cause Cancer, Heart Disease.”
Wait just a minute, that headline was a recent Fox News headline about a study from Copenhagen University in Denmark. The article quotes lead author Steffen Loft, who notes, “In human cells that were exposed to the [wood smoke] particles, substantial DNA damage and mutation took place. It was comparable to the effects of particles given off by traffic.”
Particles were collected from the air in a village with many operating wood stoves and from a village where stove use is low, as well as from wood stoves burning efficiently (high oxygen) and less efficiently (low oxygen). The effects of the particles were tested on cultured human lung and immune cells.
The findings: “[Particulate matter from wood smoke] produces high levels of free radicals, DNA damage as well as inflammatory and oxidative stress response gene expression.” In other words, the wood smoke particles caused more cellular and DNA damage than air without the particles, and these molecular changes could lead to heart disease and cancer.
We at Families for Clean Air were not surprised by the findings, since wood smoke toxicity has been documented extensively. However, we were happily surprised by the prominence of the finding on the Fox News website. (It also merited a brief mention on the website of the LA Times, another mainstream news source.)
The harmful effects of wood smoke pollution are becoming impossible to ignore.