Wood fire cooking can cause lasting damage to lungs

Cooking over a wood fire can cause lasting damage to the lungs

In this news, we discuss the Wood fire cooking can cause lasting damage to lungs.

About 3 billion people around the world cook with biomass, such as wood or dried brush. Pollutants from cooking with biomass are a major contributor to the 4 million deaths per year due to diseases linked to domestic air pollution.

Advanced imaging with CT shows that people who cook with biomass fuels like wood are at risk of significant damage to their lungs by inhaling dangerous concentrations of pollutants and bacterial toxins, according to a study presented at the meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

The results of the study underscore the importance of minimizing exposure to smoke. Even in the absence of overt symptoms or difficulty breathing, the lung can exhibit injury and inflammation that may go undetected and potentially unresolved in some people.

While public health initiatives have attempted to support the transition from biofuels to cleaner burning liquefied petroleum gas as a fuel source, a significant number of homes continue to use biofuels. Financial constraints and a reluctance to change established habits are factors, combined with a lack of information on the impact of biomass smoke on lung health.

“It is important to detect, understand and reverse the early alterations that develop in response to chronic exposures to biofuel emissions,” said study co-author Abhilash Kizhakke Puliyakote, postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of California at San Diego.

A multidisciplinary team led by Eric A. Hoffman, at the University of Iowa, in collaboration with researchers from the Periyar Maniammai Institute of Science and Technology, studied the impact of stove pollutants on 23 people cooking with liquefied petroleum gas or woody biomass in Thanjavur, India.

Researchers measured the concentrations of pollutants in homes, then studied the lung function of individuals, using traditional tests such as spirometry. They also used advanced CT scans to take quantitative measurements – for example, they acquired one scan when the person inhaled and another after they exhaled and measured the difference between the images to see how the lungs were functioning.

The analysis showed that those who cooked with woody biomass were exposed to higher concentrations of pollutants and bacterial endotoxins than users of liquefied petroleum gas. They also had a significantly higher level of air entrapment in their lungs, a condition associated with lung disease.

“Air entrapment occurs when part of the lung is unable to efficiently exchange air with the environment, so the next time you breathe in you are not getting enough oxygen into that area and you are not eliminating carbon dioxide, ”said Dr Kizhakke Puliyakote. “This part of the lung has impaired gas exchange.”

The researchers found a smaller subset of biomass users who exhibited very high levels of air entrapment and abnormal tissue mechanics, even compared to other biomass users. In about a third of the group, more than 50% of the air they inhaled ended up trapped in their lungs.

“This increased sensitivity in a subgroup is also seen in other studies of tobacco smokers, and there may be a genetic basis that predisposes some individuals to be more sensitive to their environment,” said Dr Kizhakke Puliyakote .

The CT scan added important information about the effect of smoke on the lungs that has been underestimated by conventional tests.

Exposure to biomass smoke affects the small airways of the lungs.

“For people exposed to biomass smoke for an extended period of time, it is essential to have a comprehensive assessment of lung function by healthcare professionals to ensure that any potential injury can be resolved with appropriate interventions. “Said Dr Kizhakke Puliyakote.

Although the study focuses on cooking with biomass, the findings have important implications for exposure to biomass smoke from other sources, including forest fires.

News Highlights:

Cooking over a wood fire can cause lasting damage to the lungs

Study results highlight importance of minimizing exposure to smoke

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