Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

The Origin, Fate, and Health Effects of Combustion By-Products: A Research Framework. (Workshop Summaries)

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

The Origin, Fate, and Health Effects of Combustion By-Products: A Research Framework. (Workshop Summaries)

Article excerpt

Incomplete combustion processes can emit organic pollutants, metals, and fine particles. Combustion by-products represent global human and environmental health challenges that are relevant not only in heavily industrialized nations, but also developing nations where up to 90% of rural households rely on unprocessed biomass fules for cooking, warmth, and light. These issues were address at the Seventh International Congress on Combustion By-Products, convened 4-6 June 2001 in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. This congress included a diverse group of multidisciplinary researchers and practitioners who discussed recent develop-merits and future goals in the control of combustion by-products and their effects of exposure on human and ecological health. Participants recommended that interdisciplinary, coordinated research efforts should be focused to capitalize on the important potential synergisms between efforts to reduce the adverse human health effects linked to exposures to combustion by-products and broader efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy through efficiency. In this article we summarize the principal findings and recommendations for research focus and direction. Key words: combustion by-products, fine particles, genetic susceptibility, lung pathobiology, metals, Polychlorinateddibenzodioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans, public health. Environ Health Perspect 110:1155-1162 (2002). [Online 26 September 2002]

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Inefficient combustion processes result in incomplete combustion and can emit complex mixtures of organic pollutants, metals, and fine particles due to incomplete combustion. Although this concept generally brings to mind the image of a tall smokestack spewing a dark plume, combustion sources are greatly varied and quite often not related to industrial facilities. Combustion processes include manufacturing processes, residential fuel use for heating and cooking, and open burning, as well as the diverse internal combustion engines found in jets, construction equipment, cars and trucks, lawnmowers, and so on. Not only are combustion processes diverse, but the by-products emitted (defined as products other than the most thermodynamically stable reaction products, i.e., carbon dioxide and water) vary with process efficiency and fuel type.

Indoor and outdoor environments are widely contaminated by complex mixtures of combustion-derived gases and particles (1), and these pollutants create global human and environmental health problems. Because combustion sources are found worldwide, it is not only the residents of industrial cities in developed nations that face the environmental health risks from exposure to combustion by-products. Moreover, by-products of combustion processes have potential for wide-ranging impacts, not only on human health but on entire ecosystems and the global climate. These issues were addressed at the Seventh International Congress on Combustion By-Products (held 4-6 June 2001 in Research Triangle Park, NC). This congress included a diverse group of multidisciplinary researchers and practitioners who discussed recent developments and future goals in the control of combustion by-products and their effects of exposure on human and ecologic health. In this article we summarize the principal findings and recommendations for research focus and direction. A key need is the development of technologies to provide safe, clean, and efficient energy systems, with the ultimate goal of translating discoveries to public health intervention strategies.

Combustion By-Products: Impacts on a Global Scale

Environmental health policy has primarily focused on issues that are considered global in scale. Current policies emphasize environmental issues that are global in the sense that the environmental impact is the result of worldwide emissions or atmospheric formation of a single pollutant or small identifiable group of pollutants. …

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