Health effects of subchronic exposure to environmental levels of hardwood smoke

Inhal Toxicol. 2006 Jul;18(8):523-39. doi: 10.1080/08958370600685707.


Hardwood smoke is a contributor to both ambient and indoor air pollution. As part of a general health assessment of multiple anthropogenic source emissions conducted by the National Environmental Respiratory Center, a series of health assays was conducted on rodents exposed to environmentally relevant levels of hardwood smoke. This article summarizes the study design and exposures, and reports findings on general indicators of toxicity, bacterial clearance, cardiac function, and carcinogenic potential. Hardwood smoke was generated from an uncertified wood stove, burning wood of mixed oak species. Animals were exposed to clean air (control) or dilutions of whole emissions based on particulate (30, 100, 300, and 1000 micromg/m3). F344 rats, SHR rats, strain A/J mice, and C57BL/6 mice were exposed by whole-body inhalation 6 h/day, 7 days/wk, for either 1 wk or 6 mo. Effects of exposure on general indicators of toxicity, bacterial clearance, cardiac function, and carcinogenic potential were mild. Exposure-related effects included increases in platelets and decreases in blood urea nitrogen and serum alanine aminotransferase. Several other responses met screening criteria for significant exposure effects but were not consistent between genders or exposure times and were not corroborated by related parameters. Pulmonary histopathology revealed very little accumulation of hardwood smoke particulate matter. Parallel studies demonstrated mild exposure effects on bronchoalveolar lavage parameters and in a mouse model of asthma. In summary, the results reported here show few and only modest health hazards from short-term to subchronic exposures to realistic concentrations of hardwood smoke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Animals
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen
  • Lung / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Platelet Count
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Rats, Inbred SHR
  • Smoke / adverse effects*
  • Toxicity Tests, Chronic
  • Wood*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Smoke
  • Alanine Transaminase