Burning Issues

Wood Smoke Damages the Eye

Ocular morbidity and fuel use: an experience from India: January 2005

"Wood use was found to be an important factor in the aetiology of age dependent cataract" Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2005; 62 :66-69 © 2005 BMJ Publishing Group Ltd
A Saha ,P K Kulkarni ,A Shah ,M Patel and H N Saiyed
National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, India

The association of fuel use and ocular morbidity in a village in western India was investigated in a cross sectional prevalence survey involving 469 randomly selected subjects. All subjects were interviewed and underwent medical and ophthalmological examination. Wood use was found to be an important factor in the aetiology of age dependent cataract (OR 2.12, 95% CI 1.03–4.34). When comparing wood only and LPG only users, the odds ratio was 3.47 (95% CI 1.05–11.50). In cases of eye irritation, coal use (OR 2.04, 95% CI 1.13–3.68) and cattle dung use (OR 1.83, 95% CI 1.35–2.47) were shown to be important factors, while male sex posed a lesser risk.

Keywords: biomass fuels; cataract; eye irritation
Copyright © 2005 BMJ Publishing Group Ltd Correspondence to:
Dr A Saha, Research Officer (Medical), Occupational Medicine Division, National Institute of Occupational Health, Meghani Nagar, Ahmedabad-380 016, Gujarat, India; asimsaha2311@yahoo.co.in

Effect of smoke condensate on the physiological integrity and morphology of organ cultured rat lenses.

"Our present study indicates that metabolites of wood smoke condensate accumulate in the lens."Curr Eye Res. 1995 Apr;14(4):295-301. Rao CM, Qin C, Robison WG Jr, Zigler JS Jr.

Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India.

Smoke, either from cigarette smoking or from burning of organic fuels, has been proposed to be a major environmental risk factor for a variety of human diseases. Recently, smoke was implicated in cataract, an eye lens opacification which is a major cause of blindness. We have undertaken a study to investigate the effect of wood smoke condensate on the physiological integrity and morphology of organ cultured lenses. Lenses in organ culture are metabolically active and have functional defense systems, thus they provide an appropriate model for studying effects of smoke condensate. Our present study indicates that metabolites of wood smoke condensate accumulate in the lens. The ability of the lenses to accumulate rubidium-86 (mimic of potassium) and choline from the medium is compromised by exposure to smoke condensate. Rubidium efflux studies suggest that the damage is primarily at the uptake level and does not involve an overall increase in membrane permeability. Protein leakage experiments corroborate this suggestion. Histological data show distinct morphological changes such as hyperplasia, hypertrophy and multilayering of epithelial cells.

PMID: 7606915 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Indoor air pollution in developing countries: a major environmental and public health challenge.

Bull World Health Organ. 2000;78(9):1078-92.
Bruce N, Perez-Padilla R, Albalak R.

Department of Public Health, University of Liverpool, England. ngb@liv.ac.uk

Around 50% of people, almost all in developing countries, rely on coal and biomass in the form of wood, dung and crop residues for domestic energy. These materials are typically burnt in simple stoves with very incomplete combustion. Consequently, women and young children are exposed to high levels of indoor air pollution every day. There is consistent evidence that indoor air pollution increases the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and of acute respiratory infections in childhood, the most important cause of death among children under 5 years of age in developing countries. Evidence also exists of associations with low birth weight, increased infant and perinatal mortality, pulmonary tuberculosis, nasopharyngeal and laryngeal cancer, cataract, and, specifically in respect of the use of coal, with lung cancer. Conflicting evidence exists with regard to asthma. All studies are observational and very few have measured exposure directly, while a substantial proportion have not dealt with confounding. As a result, risk estimates are poorly quantified and may be biased. Exposure to indoor air pollution may be responsible for nearly 2 million excess deaths in developing countries and for some 4% of the global burden of disease. Indoor air pollution is a major global public health threat requiring greatly increased efforts in the areas of research and policy-making. Research on its health effects should be strengthened, particularly in relation to tuberculosis and acute lower respiratory infections. A more systematic approach to the development and evaluation of interventions is desirable, with clearer recognition of the interrelationships between poverty and dependence on polluting fuels.
PMID: 11019457 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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