Indoor PM from residential coal combustion: Levels, chemical composition, and toxicity

D.Vicente, A. I.Calvo, T. Sainnokhoi, N. Kováts, A. Sánchez de la Campa, J. de la Rosa, F. Oduber, T. Nunes, R. Fraile, M. Tomé, C. A. Alves. Sci Total Enviromen, 2024,

Indoor air quality is crucial for human health due to the significant time people spend at home, and it is mainly affected by internal sources such as solid fuel combustion for heating. This study investigated the indoor air quality and health implications associated with residential coal burning covering gaseous pollutants (CO, CO2 and total volatile organic compounds), particulate matter, and toxicity. The PM10 chemical composition was obtained by ICP-MS/OES (elements), ion chromatography (water-soluble ions) and thermal-optical analysis (organic and elemental carbon). During coal combustion, PM10 levels were higher (up to 8.8 times) than background levels and the indoor-to-outdoor ratios were, on average, greater than unity, confirming the existence of a significant indoor source. The chemical characterisation of PM10 revealed increased concentrations of organic carbon and elemental carbon during coal combustion as well as arsenic, cadmium and lead. Carcinogenic risks associated with exposure to arsenic exceeded safety thresholds. Indoor air quality fluctuated during the study, with varying toxicity levels assessed using the Aliivibrio fischeri bioluminescence inhibition assay. These findings underscore the importance of mitigating indoor air pollution associated with coal burning and highlight the potential health risks from long-term exposure. Effective interventions are needed to improve indoor air quality and reduce health risks in coal-burning households.