Inhaling smoke from the indoor wood fires may not only cause asthma and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, but can also enhance the risk of the onset of dementia, Swedish researchers said.
Researchers at the Umea University in northern Sweden who studied air quality in homes where wood-fire stoves are used and found that indoor wood fires carry as great a risk of causing dementia as traffic emissions.
“We have seen that people who live in areas where wood-fire stoves are common run a greater risk of being affected, and that also goes for people who live next to someone who uses wood-fire stoves,” said Anna Oudin, a researcher in occupational and environmental medicine at Umea University’s department of public health and clinical medicine.
The risk for residents living in areas with the highest rate of smoke from wood fires to be hit by dementia, or dementia-related diseases, was 30 per cent higher compared to other residents in the town of Umea.
In households that had their own wood-fire stoves the risk was 70 per cent higher.
“In Umea, quite a lot of people use wood-fire stoves because they are regarded as climate-friendly,” said Oudin, adding that her and her colleagues’ study is the first to produce good and reliable data on the effects of wood smoke.
The study covers a 15-year period and compares the rate of particles from traffic and from wood fires in residential areas in Umea where 1,800 people with dementia have lived.
Several thousand Swedes die every year as a result of pollution and people who live in areas with worse air quality run a greater risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases.
Emissions from traffic are regarded to be the most harmful form of pollution, but locally wood-fire stoves can have just as big an impact on health, according to the Umea University study.