Differential exposure and acute health impacts of inhaled solid-fuel emissions from rudimentary and advanced cookstoves in female CD-1 mice

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Abstract

Background:

There is an urgent need to provide access to cleaner end user energy technologies for the nearly 40% of the world's population who currently depend on rudimentary cooking and heating systems. Advanced cookstoves (CS) are designed to cut emissions and solid-fuel consumption, thus reducing adverse human health and environmental impacts.

Study premise:

We hypothesized that, compared to a traditional (Tier 0) three-stone (3-S) fire, acute inhalation of solid-fuel emissions from advanced natural-draft (ND; Tier 2) or forced-draft (FD; Tier 3) stoves would reduce exposure biomarkers and lessen pulmonary and innate immune system health effects in exposed mice.

Results:

Across two simulated cooking cycles (duration ˜ 3 h), emitted particulate mass concentrations were reduced 80% and 62% by FD and ND stoves, respectively, compared to the 3-S fire; with corresponding decreases in particles visible within murine alveolar macrophages. Emitted carbon monoxide was reduced ˜ 90% and ˜ 60%, respectively. Only 3-S-fire-exposed mice had increased carboxyhemoglobin levels. Emitted volatile organic compounds were FD ≪ 3-S-fire ≤ ND stove; increased expression of genes involved in xenobiotic metabolism (COX-2, NQO1, CYP1a1) was detected only in ND- and 3-S-fire-exposed mice. Diminished macrophage phagocytosis was observed in the ND group. Lung glutathione was significantly depleted across all CS groups, however the FD group had the most severe, ongoing oxidative stress.

Conclusions:

These results are consistent with reports associating exposure to solid fuel stove emissions with modulation of the innate immune system and increased susceptibility to infection. Lower respiratory infections continue to be a leading cause of death in low-income economies. Notably, 3-S-fire-exposed mice were the only group to develop acute lung injury, possibly because they inhaled the highest concentrations of hazardous air toxicants (e.g., 1,3-butadiene, toluene, benzene, acrolein) in association with the greatest number of particles, and particles with the highest % organic carbon. However, no Tier 0–3 ranked CS group was without some untoward health effect indicating that access to still cleaner, ideally renewable, energy technologies for cooking and heating is warranted.

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