Burning of biomass releases particulate matter air pollution that causes oxidative stress as well as severe DNA damage in human lung cells — primarily through the actions of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) known as retene.
Researchers first determined the concentration of pollutants to be used in the lab experiments designed to mimic the exposure suffered by people who live in the area of the deforestation arc. Using mathematical models, the researchers calculated the human lung’s capacity to inhale particulate matter at the height of the burning season and the percentage of pollutants that is deposited in lung cells. Based on this theoretical mass, they determined the concentration levels to be tested using cultured cells.
After 72 hours of exposure, over 30% of cultured human lung cells died.
Biomass burning in the Amazon region causes DNA damage and cell death in human lung cells