Wood smoke in a controlled exposure experiment with human volunteers

Ingunn Skogstad Riddervold, Jakob Hjort Bønløkke, Lars Mølhave, Andreas Massling, Bjarne Jensen, Therese Koops Grønborg, Rossana Bossi, Lykke Forchhammer, Søren K. Kjærgaard, Torben Sigsgaard

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Exposure to wood smoke in the general population is increasing and concurrently, also our awareness. This article describes a wood-smoke generating system for studying human exposure to wood smoke and symptoms related to this exposure. Twenty nonsmoking atopic human participants with normal lung function and normal bronchial reactivity were randomly exposed for 3h at three different exposure conditions; clean filtered air (control exposure) and wood smoke with a characteristic particulate matter (PM) concentration of 200 µg/m3 (low) and 400 µg/m3 (high) under controlled environmental conditions. The range for PM2.5 load observed for single experiments was 165–303 µg/m3 for the low exposure and 205–662 µg/m3 for the high exposure, whereas particle loads during clean air exposure most often were below the detection limit (<20 µg/m3). Health effects were evaluated in relation to rated changes in symptoms and environmental perception using a computerized questionnaire and a potentiometer. Subjective symptoms were generally weak, but when combining the effect of each of the symptoms into categorical symptom indices, significant effects were found for “environmental perception” (p = 0.0007), “irritative body perceptions” (p = 0.0127), “psychological/neurological effects” (p = 0.0075) and “weak inflammatory responses” (p = 0.0003). Furthermore, significant effects (p = 0.0192) on self-reported general mucosa irritation were found. In conclusion, exposure to wood smoke affected symptom rating and caused irritated mucosas in humans. The knowledge gained in this study on subjective-rated symptoms may be important for understanding human response to wood-smoke exposure.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInhalation Toxicology
Pages (from-to)277-288
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • controlled exposure
  • wood smoke
  • particles
  • health effects
  • humans


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