News Brief

Coal and Wood Combustion Smoke Linked to Lung Cancer

By Emily CatacchioA new study published in the journal

Environmental Health Perspectives links poor indoor air quality due to solid-fuel use to increased lung cancer rates. The study was sparked by the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s recent classification of indoor coal smoke emissions as a human carcinogen and wood smoke as a “probable” carcinogen. The study analyzed seven fuel-use epidemiological studies included in the International Lung Cancer Consortium; the studies included a total of 11,640 people from North America, Asia, and Europe. The analysis confirmed an increased risk of lung cancer among solid-fuel users versus non-solid-fuel users across all studies, and suggests that wood smoke should be classified as a carcinogen along with coal smoke. A “lack of epidemiological evidence”—partially rectified through this study—has until now placed wood smoke at the “probable carcinogen” level. The type of stove, quality of ventilation, and other factors influence lung cancer risk associated with solid-fuel use but were not a part of this study. Lung cancer is the most prevalent cancer worldwide, with nearly 1.4 million cases a year. For more information, see

Published January 27, 2011

Emily, C. (2011, January 27). Coal and Wood Combustion Smoke Linked to Lung Cancer. Retrieved from

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March 2, 2013 - 12:57 am

So, if they're not used for home heating or for cooking, why does any one use them at all? Whether periodic or continuous, they're all nasty, polluting appliances.

February 2, 2011 - 6:22 am

The basis of this research is where wood-burning stoves are used to heat the home and for cooking, not the periodic use of wood-burning fireplaces that we see today in the U.S. So this research should be not be extrapolated to include wood-burning fireplaces that are used infrequently.

Brian Trimble
Brick Industry Association