Wood smoke black carbon from Indigenous traditional cultural activities in a subarctic Cree community

Int J Circumpolar Health. 2020 Dec;79(1):1811517. doi: 10.1080/22423982.2020.1811517.


Indoor concentrations of black carbon (BC) were measured when wood was burned for traditional cultural activities in a study in a Cree community located in subarctic Canada. The study also included an intervention using a propane-fuelled heater to mitigate in situ BC. Mass concentrations of BC were measured in a game-smoking tent for 39 days and in hunting cabins on the west coast of James Bay, Canada, for 8 days. Five-minute averaged BC mass concentration (N = 12,319) data were recorded and assessed using optimised noise-reduction averaging. Mean BC mass concentrations were lower in hunting cabins (mean = 8.25 micrograms per cubic metre (µg m-3)) and higher in the game-smoking tent (mean = 15.46 µg m-3). However, excessive BC peaks were recorded in the game-smoking tent (maximum = 3076.71 µg m-3) when the fire was stoked or loaded. The intervention with the propane heater in a hunting cabin yielded a 90% reduction in measured BC mass concentrations. We do not presume that exposure to BC is of concern in hunting cabins with appropriate wood-burning appliances that are well-sealed and vent outside. In game-smoking tents, we advise that persons take intermittent breaks outside of the tent for fresh air.

Keywords: Cree; Indigenous; James Bay; Wood; black carbon; indoors; smoke.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Arctic Regions
  • Carbon / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Indigenous Canadians / ethnology*
  • Seasons
  • Smoke / analysis*
  • Wood*


  • Smoke
  • Carbon