advertisement
17 May 2011

Chemical in smoke a health risk

A chemical in smoke from cigarettes, forest fires and cooking/heating fires may pose a health risk, a new study indicates.

0

A chemical in smoke from cigarettes, forest fires and cooking/heating fires may pose a health risk, a new study indicates.

Researchers designed a custom mass spectrometer to look at levels of the chemical, isocyanic acid, in the atmosphere. Until now, it was difficult to detect the chemical with conventional measurement techniques, explained the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists and their colleagues.

They tested and found isocyanic acid in the air in urban Los Angeles; in the air in Boulder, Colo. downwind of a 2010 wildfire; in laboratory burning experiments at high concentrations; and in cigarette smoke.

They also found that isocyanic acid dissolves readily in water, which means people can experience direct exposure to the chemical if it gets in their eyes or lungs.

The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Indoor fires dangerous

The health effects of isocyanic acid aren't fully known. In the body, isocyanic acid is part of a chemical pathway associated with cataracts and inflammation that can lead to cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis, the researchers noted.

"There are literally billions of people in the world who burn biomass for cooking and heating," study author Jim Roberts, a chemist with NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, said.

"If these indoor fires release similar levels of isocyanic acid as the fires we studied in the laboratory, families could be exposed to high levels of the chemical," he added.


(Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

The debate continues »

Working out in the concrete jungle 7 top butt exercises for guys 10 things pole dancing can do for you

The running vs. walking debate

There are many different theories when it comes to the running vs. walking for health and weight loss.

Veganism a crime? »

Running the Comrades Marathon on a vegan diet Are vegans unnatural beasts? Can a vegan be really healthy?

Should it be a crime to raise a baby on vegan food?

After a number of cases of malnourishment in Italy, it may become a crime to feed children under 16 a vegan diet.