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Volume 15, No. 7, December 2015, Pages 2496-2507 PDF(984 KB)  
doi: 10.4209/aaqr.2015.03.0149   

Mortality and Morbidity Attributed to Aerosol and Gaseous Emissions from Biomass Use for Space Heating

Denis A. Sarigiannis1,2, Marianthi Kermenidou1, Spyridoula Nikolaki1, Dimitrios Zikopoulos1, Spyros P. Karakitsios1,2

1 Department of Chemical Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, 54006, Greece
2 Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CE.R.T.H.), Thessaloniki, 57001, Greece


  • Biomass burning significantly increases the levels of indoor PM of lower diameter
  • 200 additional deaths (in a population of 900,000) are expected in the cold season
  • Biomass burning is the main source of PAHs in the air of crisis-stricken cities.
  • Biomass emitted PM have higher PAH content than the ones emitted from other sources.



Over the last years in Greece, the intense use of biomass for space heating resulted in increased ambient and indoor air pollution and enhanced population exposure to particulate matter and genotoxicants in particle and gaseous form such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This study deals with the precise assessment of exposure to these pollutants and the related health and monetary impact. To these goals, measured and modelled data of outdoor and indoor PM10 and PM2.5 were fed into an integrated exposure assessment modelling framework that takes into account indoor air quality, time-activity patterns of the exposed population and activity-based inhalation rates. Chemical analysis on the sampled PM allowed us to estimate the contribution of biomass burning to PM mass concentration and the associated increase in toxicity (expressed in terms of PAHs content). Health impacts were assessed adapting well-established exposure-response functions coupled with mechanistic exposure models. Monetary cost of these impacts was calculated based on the valuation of the willingness-to-pay/accept to avoid/compensate for the loss of welfare associated with them. PM from biomass burning is finer and more genotoxic than PM from traffic or other urban sources. Total exposure to PM and PAHs due to biomass use was significantly increased and the estimated health burden was increased by more than 40%, while the associated monetary cost rises to ca. €200 m. 



Keywords: PM; Mortality; Morbidity; Biomass combustion, PAHs; Lung cancer.



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