Combustion of dried animal dung as biofuel results in the generation of highly redox active fine particulates

Part Fibre Toxicol. 2005 Oct 4:2:6. doi: 10.1186/1743-8977-2-6.


Background: The burning of biomass in the developing world for heating and cooking results in high indoor particle concentrations. Long-term exposure to airborne particulate matter (PM) has been associated with increased rates of acute respiratory infections, chronic obstructive lung disease and cancer. In this study we determined the oxidative activity of combustion particles derived from the biomass fuel dung cake by examining their capacity to deplete antioxidants from a model human respiratory tract lining fluid (RTLF). For comparison, the observed oxidative activity was compared with that of particles derived from industrial and vehicular sources.

Results: Incubation of the dung cake particle suspensions in the RTLF for 4 h resulted in a mean loss of ascorbate of 72.1 +/- 0.7 and 89.7 +/- 2.5% at 50 and 100 microg/ml, respectively. Reduced glutathione was depleted by 49.6 +/- 4.3 and 63.5 +/- 22.4% under the same conditions. The capacity of these samples to deplete ascorbate was in excess of that observed with diesel or gasoline particles, but comparable to that seen with residual oil fly ash and considerably in excess of all three control particles in terms of glutathione depletion. Co-incubation with the metal chelator diethylenetriaminepentaacetate inhibited these losses, whilst minimal inhibition was seen with superoxide dismutase and catalase treatment. The majority of the activity observed appeared to be contained within aqueous particle extracts.

Conclusion: These data demonstrate that biomass derived particles have considerable oxidative activity, largely attributable to their transition metal content.