Science: Cooper's Paper, pg. 4

Table IV. initiating or cancer-promoting agents and cocarcinogenic compounds in smoke from residential wood combustion sources.(a,b)


a DeAngelis, et al.(21) (grams emissions per kilogram wood)
b Van Duuren(32)


This is of concern because these conditions are relatively common in the winter when emissions from this source would be highest. Not only would this source contribute significantly to the general air pollution levels during these acute episodes, but their emissions are highly respirable and contain potentially hazardous materials as noted in Tables I-IV. In addition, this material is emitted in residential areas where the very young and old portion of the population, as well as those with special medical problems, will receive the maximum exposure. These emissions may also be difficult to turn off during periods of acute air pollution episodes in the winter, if a significant portion of the population depends on RWC as their primary energy source.

England has already recognized the contribution of this source to its air pollution episodes and has banned the use of soft coal and wood for heating in London and other smoke control areas in England.39 ln addition, most metropolitan areas of the U.S. have banned backyard trash incineration and simply moving the incinerator indoors doesn't make the emissions any more environmentally acceptable. The trend towards increasing solid waste disposal costs will continue to encourage the use of RWC devices as incinerators of kitchen trash which along with soot cleaners will greatly complicate the chemistry of the emissions.

Chronic health effects related to most forms of air pollution are much more difficult to assess. The effects are often sub clinical and difficult to distinguish from other effects such as ' infectious diseases, cigarette smoking, and personal habits in addition to having potentially long latent periods. Nevertheless, enough information is available to show clearly that the emissions from RWC appliances are a potential threat to public health relative to many other sources of air pollutants.

There are numerous clinical and sub clinical respiratory and nonrespiratory health effects to which RWC emissions could contribute by simply increasing the level or general air pollution. These include not only cancer, but also chronic and acute bronchitis, the common cold, pneumonia, emphysema, asthma, etc.(40) The hazardous chemicals emitted from RWC sources and their highly respirable nature, however, must raise an additional level of concern for this source of air pollution beyond its contribution to general air pollution levels. This concern is based in part on the following information:

Thus, emissions from RWC sources must be considered a potential major threat to public health because of their highly respirable nature, the hazardous chemicals they contain, the available information relating these emissions, chemicals, etc. to health related problems, the fact that they are emitted in residential areas, and that the emissions are increasing.

The extent of exposure to these pollutants must be known before the environmental and health impact of this source of air pollution can be fully assessed. This will require more than simple emission inventories. Methods must be developed and applied which will allow the direct quantitative determination of the levels of wood smoke pollutants in several regions of the country over extended periods of time and both inside and outside of residences. In the meantime, emphasis needs to be placed on further evaluation of the health risks of the priority and carcinogenic pollutants in smoke. This would provide some of the basic information required to assess the absolute health risks as well as the health risks relative to other major sources of pollution such as transportation and industrial point sources.

Table V. National Ambient Air Quality Standards.This table is omitted because this paper was written in 1980 and the standards have changed.

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