Health benefits from substituting raw biomass fuels for charcoal and briquette fuels: In vitro toxicity analysis

Xinyi Niu, Xinyao Liu, Bin Zhang, Qian Zhang, Hongmei Xu, Hongai Zhang, Jian Sun, Kin Fai Ho, Hsiao Chi Chuang, Zhenxing Shen, Junji Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


PM2.5 (particulate matters with diameter ≤ 2.5 μm) from biomass fuel combustion has been identified as a major cause of cardiopulmonary diseases. Briquette and charcoal are two representative processed fuels that exhibit different emission characteristics. This study compared three types of biomass fuels (maize straw, wheat straw, and wood branches) and their respective processed fuels in terms of their emission factors (EFs). The bioreactivity of human alveolar epithelial (A549) cells to exposure to various fuel-emitted PM2.5 was assessed. The EFs of lactic dehydrogenase (LDH) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) were calculated to compare actual cytotoxicity. The PM2.5 EFs of maize and wheat straw were higher than those of wood branches, and following the processes of briquetting and carbonization, the EFs of PM2.5 and chemical components were effectively reduced. Cell membrane damage and inflammatory responses were observed after A549 cell exposure to PM2.5 extracts. The expression of bioreactivity to briquettes and charcoals was lower than that to raw fuels. The EFs of LDH and IL-6 were also significantly reduced after briquetting and carbonization. This underscores the necessity of fuel treatment for reducing cytotoxicity. The crucial chemical components that contributed to cell oxidative and inflammatory responses were identified, including organic and elemental carbon, water-soluble ions (e.g., K+, Mg2+, and Ca2+), metals (e.g., Fe, Cr, and Ni), and high-molecular-weight PAHs. This study elucidated the similarities and differences of PM2.5 emissions and cytotoxicity of three types of biomass fuel and demonstrated the positive effects of fuel treatment on reducing adverse pulmonary effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number161332
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Cell damage
  • Fuel combustion
  • Inflammation
  • PM emission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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