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The impact of domestic wood burning on personal, indoor and outdoor levels of 1,3-butadiene, benzene, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde

Journal article
Authors Pernilla Gustafson
Lars Barregård
Bo Strandberg
Gerd Sällsten
Published in J Environ Monit
Volume 9
Issue 1
Pages 23-32
Publication year 2007
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Pages 23-32
Language en
Keywords Acetaldehyde/*analysis, Air Pollutants/analysis, Air Pollution, Indoor/analysis, Benzene/*analysis, Butadienes/*analysis, Environmental Monitoring, Formaldehyde/*analysis, Heating/methods, Humans, *Wood
Subject categories Environmental medicine


The aim of this study was to quantify personal exposure and indoor levels of the suspected or known carcinogenic compounds 1,3-butadiene, benzene, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in a small Swedish town where wood burning for space heating is common. Subjects (wood burners, n = 14), living in homes with daily use of wood-burning appliances were compared with referents (n = 10) living in the same residential area. Personal exposure and stationary measurements indoors and at an ambient site were performed with diffusive samplers for 24 h. In addition, 7 day measurements of 1,3-butadiene and benzene were performed inside and outside the homes. Wood burners had significantly higher median personal exposure to 1,3-butadiene (0.18 microg m(-3)) compared with referents (0.12 microg m(-3)), which was also reflected in the indoor levels. Significantly higher indoor levels of benzene were found in the wood-burning homes (3.0 microg m(-3)) compared with the reference homes (1.5 microg m(-3)). With regard to aldehydes, median levels obtained from personal and indoor measurements were similar although the four most extreme acetaldehyde levels were all found in wood burners. High correlations were found between personal and indoor levels for all substances (r(s) > 0.8). In a linear regression model, type of wood-burning appliance, burning time and number of wood replenishments were significant factors for indoor levels of 1,3-butadiene. Domestic wood burning seems to increase personal exposure to 1,3-butadiene as well as indoor levels of 1,3-butadiene and benzene and possibly also acetaldehyde. The cancer risk from these compounds at exposure to wood smoke is, however, estimated to be low in developed countries.

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