Toxicological effects of particulate emissions: A comparison of oil and wood fuels in small- and medium-scale heating systems

Stefanie Kasurinen (Corresponding Author), Pasi I. Jalava, Maija Tapanainen, Oskari Uski, Mikko S. Happo, Jorma Mäki-Paakkanen, Heikki Lamberg, Hanna Koponen, Ilpo Nuutinen, Miika Kortelainen, Jorma Jokiniemi, Maija-Riitta Hirvonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The use of wood instead of oil fuels in heating systems is strongly encouraged in many countries. Yet it is unknown to what extent such a large-scale change from oil to wood fuels in heating systems would contribute to any negative health effects from their emissions. We compared the toxicological properties of particulate matter (PM) emissions from wood and oil fuels from two small-scale and two medium-scale heating systems. To assess whether oil or wood combustion emissions cause adverse effects and which PM emissions' effects are more profound, we measured cell viability and proliferation, inflammatory markers, as well as DNA damage in RAW264.7 mouse macrophages. We found that the medium-scale oil-fueled heating system induced a dose-dependent increase of DNA damage, short-term cytotoxic effects, and a cell cycle arrest in the G2/M-phase. We did not detect an induction of DNA damage by the medium-scale wood-fired system. However, we detected significant short-term cytotoxicity. We found that both oil and wood combustion emission samples from the small-scale heating systems induced DNA damage. However, the short-term cytotoxic effects were greater for the PM emissions from the oil-fired heating system. PM mass emissions differed significantly between the tested heating systems. The lowest emissions, 0.1 mg/MJ, were produced by the small-scale oil-fired heating system; the highest emissions, 20.3 mg/MJ, by the medium-scale oil-fired heating system. The wood-fired heating systems' PM mass emissions were in between these concentrations, complicating the direct comparison of the emissions' health related toxic effects. Conclusively, our results indicate that the emissions from both the small- and the medium-scale wood-fueled heating systems cause overall less cytotoxicity and DNA damage in a cell model than the emissions from the corresponding oil-fueled heating systems. Hence, controlled wood-fueled heating systems may be good alternatives to heating systems fired with fuel oil.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-330
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • biomass
  • combustion
  • particles
  • cytotoxicity
  • genotoxicity
  • heating


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