European researchers find cancer risk from wood-burning stoves

Feb 21, 2011

Wood smoke could prove hazardous

Miniscule particles in the smoke emitted by wood-burning stoves may pose a risk of lung cancer, according to a recent report.

While scientists have long known about the dangers posed by car exhaust and industrial emissions, such a risk from wood smoke had not previously been identified.

A researcher from the department of public health at Copenhagen University, Steffen Loft, told the Daily Telegraph significant damage was seen from the particulate matter.

"The particles that come from wood smoke can certainly cause fatal heart or lung disease," said Loft. "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."

The news may not be well-received in Britain, the Telegraph said, where residents have been supplementing their existing heating systems with burning wood in increasing numbers of late.

Prolonged exposure to most common types of smoke should probably be avoided, according to health experts, who caution that life insurance rates could also be affected.

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