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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Update on biomass smoke and traffic pollution and respiratory health

Laumbach and Kipen (J Allergy Clin Immunol 2012;129: 3-11) present a report this month on the contributions of burning biomass fuels (BMF) and traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) to respiratory disease. The authors begin by noting that both TRAP and BMF burning have become critical factors for increased incidence of respiratory infections, COPD, and asthma in developed and less developed countries (DC & LDC, respectively), with both being very preventable causes.

In their introduction, they point out that global pollution monitoring has been under way for half a century, but the effects of microenvironment pollutants, such as BMF and TRAP, are less studied because of the difficulty of evaluating their impact at the level of the individual. New statistical approaches have begun to close this gap to demonstrate strong correlations between TRAP and allergic respiratory diseases as well as between BMF and COPD.

Laumbach and Kipen delve into exposure patterns for BMF burning and TRAP, commenting that the greatest burdens are on women and children in LDCs and adults and children in inner city, low socioeconomic communities in DCs. BMFs are significantly linked to lower respiratory infection in children and COPD in women in LDCs due to greater exposure to cooking and heating in poorly or unventilated households. TRAP exposure is rising in both DCs and LDCs, with LDC experiencing growth in heavy industries reliant on diesel transport.

The authors review the literature on associations of BMF with COPD, tuberculosis, and asthma, TRAP with COPD, childhood asthma and adult asthma, and indoor air pollution and respiratory infection. They briefly discuss mechanistic evidence as well as intervention studies, such as the Beijing Olympics Intervention Study and the Mexico Patsari stove study.

Laumbach and Kipen conclude by commenting on the highly political nature of reducing BMF and TRAP, pointing out that public policy and individual action will be necessary to alleviate the disparate health burden on citizens of LDCs. They urge clinicians to counsel their patients on immediate impact ways to lessen their exposure, such as improving ventilation and avoiding high traffic roadways while exercising outside.

1 comment:

  1. Biomass is biological material derived from living , or recently living organisms. Biomass heating systems generate heat from biomass. Biomass boilers burn bark, sander dust and other wood-related scrap not usable in product production. Good information. Thanks a lot.
    Biomass Heating