How Harmful Is Particulate Matter Emitted from Biomass Burning? A Thailand Perspective

Helinor Jane Johnston, William Mueller, Susanne Steinle, Sotiris Vardoulakis, Kraichat Tantrakamapa, Miranda Loh, John W. Cherrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Purpose of Review
A large body of epidemiological evidence demonstrates that exposure to particulate matter (PM) is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Many epidemiology studies have investigated the health effects of PM in Europe and North America and focussed on traffic derived PM. However, elevated levels of PM are a global problem and the impacts of other sources of PM on health should be assessed. Biomass burning can increase PM levels in urban and rural indoor and outdoor environments in developed and developing countries. We aim to identify whether the health effects of traffic and biomass burning derived PM are similar by performing a narrative literature review. We focus on Thailand as haze episodes from agricultural biomass burning can substantially increase PM levels.

Recent Findings
Existing epidemiology, in vitro and in vivo studies suggest that biomass burning derived PM elicits toxicity via stimulation of oxidative stress, inflammation and genotoxicity. Thus, it is likely to cause similar adverse health outcomes to traffic PM, which causes toxicity via similar mechanisms. However, there is conflicting evidence regarding whether traffic or biomass burning derived PM is most hazardous. Also, there is evidence that PM released from different biomass sources varies in its toxic potency.

Summary
We recommend that epidemiology studies are performed in Thailand to better understand the impacts of PM emitted from specific biomass sources (e.g. agricultural burning). Further, experimental studies should assess the toxicity of PM emitted from more diverse biomass sources. This will fill knowledge gaps and inform evidence-based interventions that protect human health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-377
Number of pages25
JournalCurrent Pollution Reports
Volume5
Issue number4
Early online date11 Nov 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Keywords

  • Air pollution
  • Biomass burning
  • Epidemiology
  • Hazard
  • In vitro
  • In vivo
  • PM10
  • PM2.5
  • Particulate Matter
  • Thailand
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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