Mutagenicity and lung toxicity of smoldering vs. flaming emissions from various biomass fuels: implications for health effects from wildland fires
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Yong Ho Kim; Sarah H. Warren; Q. Todd Krantz; Charly King; Richard Jaskot; William T. Preston; Barbara J. George; Michael D. Hays; Matthew S. Landis; Mark A. Higuchi; David M. DeMarini; M. Ian Gilmour
Publication Year: 2018

Cataloging Information

  • cancer
  • flaming
  • lung diseases
  • PM - particulate matter
  • public health
  • smoldering
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: November 20, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 59036


Background: The increasing size and frequency of wildland fires are leading to greater potential for cardiopulmonary disease and cancer in exposed populations; however, little is known about how the types of fuel and combustion phases affect these adverse outcomes. Objectives: We evaluated the mutagenicity and lung toxicity of particulate matter (PM) from flaming vs. smoldering phases of five biomass fuels, and compared results by equal mass or emission factors (EFs) derived from amount of fuel consumed. Methods: A quartz-tube furnace coupled to a multistage cryotrap was employed to collect smoke condensate from flaming and smoldering combustion of red oak, peat, pine needles, pine, and eucalyptus. Samples were analyzed chemically and assessed for acute lung toxicity in mice and mutagenicity in Salmonella. Results: The average combustion efficiency was 73 and 98% for the smoldering and flaming phases, respectively. On an equal mass basis, PM from eucalyptus and peat burned under flaming conditions induced significant lung toxicity potencies (neutrophil/mass of PM) compared to smoldering PM, whereas high levels of mutagenicity potencies were observed for flaming pine and peat PM compared to smoldering PM. When effects were adjusted for EF, the smoldering eucalyptus PM had the highest lung toxicity EF (neutrophil/mass of fuel burned), whereas smoldering pine and pine needles had the highest mutagenicity EF. These latter values were approximately 5, 10, and 30 times greater than those reported for open burning of agricultural plastic, woodburning cookstoves, and some municipal waste combustors, respectively. Conclusions: PM from different fuels and combustion phases have appreciable differences in lung toxic and mutagenic potency, and on a mass basis, flaming samples are more active, whereas smoldering samples have greater effect when EFs are taken into account. Knowledge of the differential toxicity of biomass emissions will contribute to more accurate hazard assessment of biomass smoke exposures.

Online Link(s):
Kim, Yong Ho; Warren, Sarah H.; Krantz, Q. Todd; King, Charly; Jaskot, Richard; Preston, William T.; George, Barbara J.; Hays, Michael D.; Landis, Matthew S.; Higuchi, Mark A.; DeMarini, David M.; Gilmour, M. Ian. 2018. Mutagenicity and lung toxicity of smoldering vs. flaming emissions from various biomass fuels: implications for health effects from wildland fires. Environmental Health Perspectives 126(1):017011.