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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 15-25

Algal biomass pellets as a possible remedy to reduce indoor air pollution from cookstoves in rural Pune

1 Microbial Diversity Research Centre, Dr. D. Y. Patil Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Institute, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Skövde, Sweden
2 Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Skövde, Sweden
3 System Biology Research Centre, School of Bioscience, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden
4 School of Health and Education, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden

Date of Web Publication26-Feb-2020

Correspondence Address:
Neelu N Nawani
Microbial Diversity Research Centre, Dr. D. Y. Patil Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Institute, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Tathawade, Pune - 411 033, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jdrr.jdrr_61_19

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Background: The present study accounts for measurement of indoor air pollution (IAP) owing to combustion of solid biomass fuels (wood, cow dung etc.) in traditional cooking stoves during rural survey of households of five villages around Pune city, India. The use of biofuels leads to serious disease burden among Indians and environmental hazards as compared to other countries, specifically affecting women and children indoors. Aims and Objectives: The main objective was to evaluate whether Algal biomass pellets acts as a possible remedy for reduction of IAP. Methods: The indoor air samples of kitchens from cook-stoves in the breathing zone were analysed for various toxic pollutants from the distance of 25 cm and indicated high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) in the range of 72.11-260.6 ppm, 0.72-1.84 ppm of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), 0.1-1.1 ppm of sulphur dioxide (SO2) compared to liquefied petroleum gas (1.0-5.28, 0-1.0, 0-0.15 ppm for CO, NO2, SO2 respectively) during cooking hours. Thus, to reduce the exposure to cook-stove generated smoke, it has been channelized for the cultivation of algal consortia under laboratory conditions. Studies on combustion of single biomass at a time demonstrated that emission of flue gas by burning of biomass was in the order, Algal biomass pellets (ABPs) < wood < cow dung < sawdust, this was analysed at 10cm distance from the source of combustion. Results: The inorganic carbon content from flue gas of algal biomass was four times less than that of wood which suggests its better combustion efficacy. Subsequently, ABP was assessed for its safety by comet assay in vitro to check its oxidative DNA damage effect on healthy peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC's). ABP displayed no significant DNA damage (10.02% DNA in tail) when exposed to flue gas and exhibited 56.45% and 66.72% reduction in pollution due to cow dung and cigarette smoke. Conclusion: The results revealed that ABP could serve as possible remedy for reducing IAP. The study provides an alternative to biomass fuels in the form of ABP, which would act as sustainable energy source for the cook stoves in rural Pune.

Keywords: Algal consortia, biomass fuels, comet assay, flue gases, indoor air quality

How to cite this article:
Karamchandani BM, Wagle NG, Chugh S, Sahasrabudhe T, Mandal A, Eriksson C, Nawani NN. Algal biomass pellets as a possible remedy to reduce indoor air pollution from cookstoves in rural Pune. J Dent Res Rev 2020;7, Suppl S2:15-25

How to cite this URL:
Karamchandani BM, Wagle NG, Chugh S, Sahasrabudhe T, Mandal A, Eriksson C, Nawani NN. Algal biomass pellets as a possible remedy to reduce indoor air pollution from cookstoves in rural Pune. J Dent Res Rev [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Jun 28];7, Suppl S2:15-25. Available from: https://www.jdrr.org/text.asp?2020/7/5/15/278901

Editor: Dr. Sarika Chaturvedi

  Introduction Top

The conventional use of biomass fuel cookstoves (chulhas in local language) in rural parts of India is leading to the problem of indoor air pollution (IAP).[1] The smoke generated by burning this biomass is a major cause of IAP because of incomplete combustion of solid biomass fuel (SBF), comprising wood, cow dung, twigs, crop residues, leaves, charcoal etc., which is cheap and easily available.[2],[3] IAP was reported as the first chief cause of death among other environmental risk factors by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2009.[4] Each year, close to 4 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to household air pollution from inefficient cooking practices using polluting stoves paired with solid fuels and kerosene, etc.[5] Although the energy conversion efficiency of biomass fuels is low ranging from 12% to 25%, versus 60% for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), the continuous use of low cost and highly available biomass for day-to-day activities in rural villages is enhanced due to the socioeconomic factor and an increasing unavailability of cleaner fuels such as LPG and electricity.[6] The 2011 National Census revealed that 87% of rural homes and 26% of urban households in India use SBF on chulha in inadequately ventilated kitchens for domestic cooking and heating purposes.[7] About 70% of the families depend on chulha as cooking medium, reported by particulate matter (PM) emission project of Pune city.[8]

The concentration of various pollutants emerged from burning of biomass includes PM, carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, free radicals and may contribute to the risk of IAP, which depends on the type and ventilation of kitchen, duration of exposure, and living room area for assessing IAP.[9],[10],[11] Emissions from biomass burning are known to be poisonous or may have irritant effects on respiratory tract, causing hostile effect on the environment and public health and causes death of almost a quarter of a million people yearly. The long-term exposure of the smoke from biomass causes inflammation, oxidative stress, and DNA damage in lungs and maybe causative agent for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease[12],[13] and other diseases such as low birth weight,[14] acute lower respiratory infections,[15] lung cancer,[16] and genetic damage[17].

In India, household burning of biomass was accountable for about 24% of the total population-weighted PM2.5 concentrations in the year 2015.[18] Thus, there is a great need for developing a low cost “cleaner fuel” as an alternative to traditional SBF globally. Although the modern cookstoves generate less indoor pollution, there are no effective measures taken to reduce outdoor pollution due to the smoke released in the surrounding area of these households affecting the family members of the same house and their neighbors. The major aim of the present research was to develop a promising approach toward alternate biomass to cookstoves for improving energy production which could be cost-effective and eco-friendly. The emerging interest in algae has a greater prospect as an alternative to conventional biomass fuels and as it is a renewable energy source, it could meet the future energy demand in the global market and decrease the carbon buildup and may reduce global warming issues. Hence, algal biomass was an economical solution as it can be easily available and cultivated at low cost. To make it more sustainable, pelletization of biomass was considered as one of the newest biomasses to energy conversion technologies. Accordingly, an idea of algal biomass pellets (ABPs) was developed as a possible remedy which would greatly reduce indoor pollution and improve the air quality, which is currently at the pilot stage. The ABP used were consisted of compressed biomaterial, made from dry algal biomass manually, having good structural strength, low moisture, and ash content. These properties of ABP are largely helpful in sewage treatment and also gaining an immense interest in reducing greenhouse gas production, as animal feed, fertilizer and sustainable, safe energy source.

This study reports on a new survey, conducted in a rural area of Maharashtra. This was focused to create awareness in the rural population about the risks and hazards of using SBF in a traditional cookstove, to understand the correlations among fuel use, pollution levels, and generate less pollution. The survey covered 215 households across five villages of Mulshi taluka in Pune Districts such as Maan, Bodkewadi, Rihe, Khamboli, and Katarkhadak to check the emission levels of flue gases in terms of CO, NO/NO2, and SO2 generated by biomass burning to which women are exposed during cooking. The flue gas especially carbon dioxide (CO2) released by the combustion of biomass fuels was sequestered in BG-11 medium and further in sewage and agricultural runoff, to make it more sustainable and cheap under laboratory conditions and further used for the cultivation of algae which has enormous applications. The total organic carbon (TOC) analysis was carried out to check inorganic carbon (IC) content of biomasses representing the amount of dissolved CO2 and carbonic acid salts. This approach could be used as a remedy to lessen IAP from household chulha's. The comparative studies on utilization safety of biomass such as sawdust, wood, and cow dung for chulha along with ABP were assessed in vitro by alkaline comet assay in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Cigarette smoke extract (CSE) was included as a known toxic pollutant in comet assay studies.

Study area and study design

This study was carried out across five villages of Mulshi taluka in Pune district, which is an administrative block of Pune along with industrial setting, situated in the heart of Mulshi valley, India. All these villages are located 1840″ above sea level on the western margin of Deccan Plateau. These lay on the leeward side of Sahyadri mountain range also known as the Western Ghats. As per population census 2011, Maan village (18.58002, 73.70659) has a total population of 7527, Khamboli (18.60334, 73.59621) 1070, Katarkhadak (18.60673, 73.56971) 887, Rihe (18.60292, 73.61678) 2124, and Bodkewadi (18.56644, 73.63853) 685 with prime occupation as agriculture. The households who cook outdoors have been excluded from the study, while those using LPG were included as control throughout the study.

  Material and Methods Top


Biomass such as wood, sawdust, hard-tar cigarette (10 mg tar and 0.8 mg nicotine), and cow dung cakes as fuels for the comparison of emission levels were obtained from the resident market place. Sewage and agricultural field runoff was collected from villages at the time of rural survey. Algal consortium was taken from microbial culture collection facility at Microbial Diversity Research Centre, Dr. D. Y. Patil Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Institute, Pune. The chemicals such as sarcosine, low melting point agarose, and dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) were procured from Sigma Aldrich (St. Louis, MO, USA). Other chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) (50% v/v) and all other chemicals used for comet assay were purchased from Fischer Scientific (Mumbai, India) and HiMedia Laboratories Pvt. Ltd., (Mumbai, India).

Preliminary rural survey

A rural survey was conducted in 215 households of five villages near Pune district, Maharashtra, namely Maan, Bodkewadi, Rihe, Khamboli, and Katarkhadak for studies on indoor pollution. Furthermore, health awareness camps and pollution measurements were carried out in all the villages. The households were selected on the basis of stratified and cluster sampling design. Prior written permissions were taken from the Gram Panchayat (village governing body) to carry out survey in the villages. A questionnaire and an informed consent were administered to the representative member of the family in households to gather the information about various characteristics of the households, classified as type of cookstove and biomass fuel used, type of ventilation available, average cooking hours, number of cooking years, cooking location, active or passive smoking, etc. The rural visit was done in the early morning hours, to observe the chulhas in the operating mode, as the cooking times were in the morning and evening hours only. Furthermore, most of the people were not available for interaction in the day time as they pursue their respective occupations. The spot observations were carried out simultaneously. The households were coded as indicated in questionnaire.

Determination of emission levels of flue gases to which women are exposed during cooking

All the households were screened during rural survey for emission of flue gases in terms of carbon oxides (COX), sulfur oxides (SOX), and nitrogen oxides (NOX) during the functional time of chulha indicating the level of IAP. The levels of toxic gases such as CO, sulfur dioxide (SO2), and NO2 due to combustion of various SBFs such as wood, cowdung cakes were determined by a transportable device named Flue gas analyzer (Testo-350, Testo Ltd., Alton, Hampshire, UK). The households in the villages where LPG is used as a source of fuel were kept as control throughout the study. The exclusion and inclusion criteria were chosen as per research method and design. Flue gases generated during cooking hours either from chulha (burning of biomass like, wood, cowdung) and/or LPG were analyzed in respective households at a source point which was 25 cm away in breathing zone of the cook. The observations were made and results were compared with the control kept in this experiment.

Entrapment of flue gas from a cookstove

The emitted flue gases were not entrapped at rural sites due to nonfeasibility of the experiments. To mimic the chulha in rural household, a near closed version called a Sigdi, was set up at pilot scale in the laboratory.

Combustion of solid biomass fuels and sequestration of carbon dioxide

The dried biomass fuels such as wood and cow dung were burnt in Sigdi for trapping flue gas generated during combustion. Another aspect of the research was the utilization of carbon trapped in medium for the growth of algae. The flue gases, especially CO2 released from burning of biomass at the source point was sequestered in synthetic medium and easily available, inexpensive sewage and agricultural field runoff collected from villages understudy to cultivate algal biomass at large scale. Sewage and agricultural field runoff were taken undiluted (800 ml volume) for entrapment because of the ease of availability at the point source. In another combination, it was diluted three times and in a third combination, it was mixed with 1 g/l of MgSO4 solution (70:30). CO2 entrapment time for each medium was kept 1 h. Organic carbon content analysis was performed before and after CO2 entrapment. The sewage was filtered to remove solid matter and microbial flora which can interfere in the TOC analysis. The IC was measured using TOC analyzer indicating the amount of dissolved CO2 and other carbonic acid salts.

Estimation of inorganic carbon content in biomass fuels by total organic carbon analyzer

The IC content of flue gas trapped after burning of different types of biomass such as sawdust, wood, cowdung, and algal consortia was estimated using TOC analyzer (TOC-LCPH/CPN, Shimadzu, Japan). The standard reference used was NaHCO3/Na2 CO3 at 1000 ppm concentrations as per the manufacturer's guidelines. The formula number 1 for the measurement of IC, was as follows:

IC = TOC − TC (1)

Large scale cultivation of algal biomass and preparation of algal biomass pellets

Cultivation of algae and their growth with entrapped flue gas

The algal consortia which were used in this study were taken from microbial culture collection facility at our institute. These algal strains were further purified and cultivated in BG-11 medium which comprised major and oligo stock solutions (g/l): Na2 CO3 (4.0), NaNO3 (300), K2 HPO4.7H2O (8.0), MgSO4.7H2O (15.0), CaCl2.2H2O (7.2), Citric Acid (1.2), Ferric ammonium nitrate (1.2), Na2 EDTA.2H2O (0.2), and H3 BO3 (2.86), MnCl2.4H2O (1.81), ZnSO4 (0.222), NaMoO4.2H2O (0.39), CuSO4.5H2O (0.079), Co (NO3)2.6H2O (0.0494). The 5 ml major stock solution and 1 ml of oligo elements solution were diluted to 1 l with distilled water. The pH was adjusted to 6.6 with acid/alkali and algal biomass was then grown in large scale for further preparation of ABP. The algal biomass was cultivated at 25°C and pH 6.6 in glass bottles having above mentioned media, further maintained in the same medium at temperature of around 4°C and the glycerol stocks were stored at −80°C until needed. These purified algal consortia were inoculated in BG-11 medium with entrapped flue gas with above-mentioned conditions. The growth was observed at intervals of 48 h and visualized by light microscopy.

Preparation of algal biomass pellets

For preparation of ABP, the algal biomass was first dried at 60°C and then prepared manually by mixing the below components and compressing it in tiny round shape structures. ABP consisted of dried algal biomass (0.4 g), binding agent (0.4 g), and Milli Q. These were dried at 60°C for 1 h before using them for further experiments.

Emission levels of carbon oxides, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur oxides from algal biomass pellets were determined

The ABP (0.2 g) was burnt in the crucible and flue gas analysis was done.[19] To compare the ABP results at laboratory scale, the pellets of sawdust (0.2 g), wood (0.2 g), cow dung cakes (0.2 g), and cigarette of butt length 3 cm, were also ignited in the same manner and results were noted. The measurements were taken for 2.30 min till ABP (0.2 g) was completely turned into ash. The results were compared with LPG as control, kept in this experiment.

Preparation of biomass smoke extracts and cigarette smoke extract

Biomass smoke extracts (BSEs) from sawdust, wood, cow dung, ABP, and CSE were prepared with slight modifications,[19],[20] immediately before use. CSE was included as known flue gas-emitting agent for the studies on the safety of ABP.

Safety assessment of algal biomass pellet in peripheral blood mononuclear cells by alkaline comet assay

To assess the safety of ABP smoke in comparison of sawdust, wood, and cowdung, an alkaline comet assay was performed to investigate the oxidative DNA damage in PBMCs caused due to their exposure to biomass smoke with little modifications.[21],[22],[23] CSE was included in comet assay studies as it is known to produce H2O2 and cause DNA damage along with standard oxidant H2O2 (100 μM). First, cell suspension of PBMCs was prepared and treated with BSEs such as sawdust, wood, cow dung, and CSE. In addition, ABP smoke extract was prepared as mentioned above and used for its safety assessment in view of DNA damage studies. The cells treated with 0.2% DMSO were separately kept to asses vehicle control to reduce the endogenous DNA damage. All the tests were performed in triplicates. The comet assay analysis for ABP was carried out versus other BSEs and CSE.[19]

Statistical analysis

Descriptive analysis of demographic characteristics of rural households from area under study was performed initially. The flue gas analysis of biomass fuel cookstoves was expressed as the average of three measurements (n = 3). The IC content of biomass fuels was exhibited as mean ± average error of measurements in triplicates (n = 3). The comet assay data were used to asses one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) which was followed by Tukey's multiple comparisons test. This was done using GraphPad Prism 6.0 (GraphPad Prism software, San Diego, USA) and the test standard for statistical significance was P < 0.05. The graphs were then plotted by statistical software Origin 6.0.

  Results Top


rural survey

As shown in [Figure 1], the villages in Mulshi taluka of Pune district, where the preliminary rural survey was conducted, included Maan, Bodkewadi, Rihe, Khamboli, and Katarkhadak which are located on the outskirts of Pune city. [Table 1] illustrates the demographic characteristics of rural households from area under study. The number of households participated in the study were Maan (n = 45), Bodkewadi (n = 26), Rihe (n = 49), Khamboli (n = 47), and Katarkhadak (n = 48). The information was gathered about various characteristics of the households, classified as the type of cookstove and biomass fuel used, type of ventilation available, average cooking hours, number of cooking years, cooking location, active or passive smoking, etc., Most of the women of these villages were in the age group of 20–60 years who were involved in cooking. The average cooking hours were 2–4 h during day time. Some of the women were cooking for many years and few have just begun.
Figure 1: Study area with five villages (survey locations marked) of Mulshi taluka of Pune district, Maharashtra, India

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Table 1: Demographic characteristics of rural households from area under study

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The field observations during the rural survey visits were carried out [Figure 2]. Most of the households in these villages were using traditional cook stoves in poorly ventilated kitchens with unprocessed biomass such as wood, cow dung, and crop residues. The heavy black smoke surrounding the cook stove and on the walls indicated the level of pollution to which women are exposed during cooking. They had complained of frequent coughing, tightness in chest, shortness of breath, high blood pressure, pain in the knee joints, and discomfort in the eyes. During the rural visits, it has been observed that the newborn was also slept in the same kitchen exposing to flue gases. Furthermore, cooking in some households was outside the house, while in others, it was inside on chulha with chimney. Some households in rural regions of these villages were using LPG with adequate ventilation. Most of the people of these villages were engaged in agriculture as prime occupation.
Figure 2: Field observations during rural survey of five villages (a) Children (new born) exposed to flue gases in poorly ventilated kitchen, (b) Outdoor cooking, (c) Indoor cooking without ample ventilation (small vents in the roof were shown by arrow), (d) Indoor cooking using biomass such as wood, cow dung

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Determination of emission levels of flue gases to which women are exposed during cooking

Indoor air sampling locations were selected in coordination with the homeowner or tenant. Flue gas analysis was carried out in terms of O2, CO, NO2, and SO2 during rural survey of 215 households having chulha (wood and/or cow dung as a biomass fuel) in five villages of Mulshi taluka in Pune district [Figure 3]a by portable flue gas analyzer. The households in the villages where LPG is used as a source of fuel were kept as control for rural flue gas analysis [Figure 3]b. The concentrations of all these noxious gases are expressed as parts per million (ppm). The indoor air samples of kitchens from Maan, Bodkewadi, Rihe, Khamboli, and Katarkhadak villages were analyzed for emission of different pollutants. This study indicated higher levels of CO from cook stoves in the range of 23–400 ppm for Maan village, 21–170 ppm for Bodkewadi, 24–444 ppm for Rihe, 56–433 ppm for Khamboli, and 52–596 ppm for Katarkhadak village. The NO2 ranged from 0 to 3 ppm, 0–2.1 ppm, 0–3 ppm, 0–2 ppm, and 0–12 ppm for Maan, Bodkewadi, Rihe, Khamboli, and Katarkhadak villages, respectively. The levels of SO2 were also measured in the range of 0–0.4 ppm, 0–4 ppm, 0–0.9 ppm, 0–0.5 ppm, and 0–1.8 ppm for Maan, Bodkewadi, Rihe, Khamboli, and Katarkhadak villages, respectively. LPG has shown significantly lower values for CO, NO2, and SO2 in all the villages (0–8, 2–10, 0–9, 0–7, and 0–5 ppm CO; 0–2, 0, 0–3, 0–2, 0–2 ppm NO2 and 0–0.5, 0, 0–0.7, 0–0.4, 0–0.4 ppm SO2 for Maan, Bodkewadi, Rihe, Khamboli, and Katarkhadak villages, respectively).

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Burning of solid biomass fuels and sequestration of carbon dioxide

The amount of wood combusted in unit time is very important factor to estimate the amount of algal biomass which can be produced from flue gas generated by burning of wood. A total of 1.2 kg of wood was weighed and burnt in a cook stove which took 23 min for complete combustion. Hence, the amount of wood which can undergo complete combustion in 60 min is 1.2/23 × 60 = 3.13 kg. Thus, for 1 h combustion, 3.13 kg of wood would require for better algal growth.

Organic carbon content analysis [Table 2] illustrated that there is not much difference in sewage (undiluted) and 70:30 values. The IC content of flue gas arising due to biomass burning was shown [Figure 4] where sawdust, wood, cow dung, and algal consortia contained 150.0 ppm, 462.9 ppm, 129.5 ppm, and 115.7 ppm IC, respectively.
Table 2: Carbon content in sewage used for entrapment of flue gas

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Figure 4: Inorganic carbon content of flue gases arising by burning of solid biomass fuels. The flue gases from biomass such as sawdust, wood, cow dung, and algal consortia were analyzed for carbon content (in ppm) by total organic carbon analyser

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Determination of emission levels of carbon oxides, sulfur oxides, and nitrogen oxides were determined from algal biomass pellet

In the present study, the analysis of flue gas from ABP was determined in controlled conditions which indicated significantly lower CO, SO2, NO, and NO2 emission levels. The flue gases emitted were compared to each other along with LPG and cigarette [Figure 5]. Only representative images out of three measurements were shown. The concentrations of all these noxious gases are expressed as parts per million (ppm) and mean of three replicates for ease of comparison. ABP has shown significant decrease in the levels of CO, NO, NO2 and SO2 (1001.5, 5.2, 0, and 0, respectively) when compared to the data from our earlier studies on IAP due to biomass such as sawdust, wood, cow dung, and cigarette smoke.[19]
Figure 5: Emission levels of O2, carbon monoxide, NO and sulfur dioxide by real time flue gas analysis at laboratory scale using testo 350 flue gas analyzer to monitor the levels of flue gases emitted from different biomass fuels such as (a) saw dust (b) wood (c) cowdung (d) cigarette and (e) algal biomass pellet. Only representative images out of three measurements were shown

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Assessment for the safety of algal biomass pellet inperipheral blood mononuclear cells by alkaline comet assay

ABPs, thus developed were assessed for its safety usage in traditional cook stoves. To determine the oxidative stress caused due to biomass smoke in the form of DNA damage, comet assay was carried out in PBMCs exposed to BSE. The comparative analysis of damage in DNA in PBMCs which were exposed to different BSEs such as sawdust, wood, cow dung, and ABP, CSE and 100 μM H2O2 as standard oxidant was depicted in the box-and-whisker plot (% DNA in tail) [Figure 6]. The cells were previously treated with undiluted smoke extracts (n=3x50 PBMC, P< 0.05) for 1hour at room temperature in dark and representative images are shown from [Figure 6]a, [Figure 6]b, [Figure 6]c, [Figure 6]d, [Figure 6]e, [Figure 6]f, [Figure 6]g. The boxes include 50% of the data. The whisker lines show the extent of data from minimum–maximum. The inner line marks represent the median value and small square in the middle of the box represents mean of each data set.
Figure 6: Box-and-whisker plot of comparative analysis of DNA damage in peripheral blood mononuclear cell (% DNA in tail) when exposed to 100 μM hydrogen peroxide, biomass smoke extracts and cigarette smoke extract. (cells were treated with undiluted smoke extracts for 1 h at room temperature in dark. [n = 3 × 50 peripheral blood mononuclear cell,P < 0.05]). Representative images have shown from a to g at × 100. The boxes include 50% of the data. The whisker lines show the extent of data from minimum–maximum. The inner line marks represent the median value and small square in the middle of the box represents mean of each data set

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  Discussion Top

Our survey provided clear evidence on correlation between IAP and biomass fuel based traditional cook stoves in rural households of Pune city in India. The rural studies largely helped in educating the people, especially women, to protect their children and themselves against the hazardous effects of flue gas. A distinct demarcation in the urban and rural parts of Pune indicated the differences in socioeconomic factors. The demographic conditions were very similar, significantly contributed amongst the five villages of Mulshi taluka. The cleaner fuel such as LPG was found in some households and revealed that government has made necessary provisions for it. The LPG users also cook using biomass to reduce fuel cost, in few cases. However, many households prefer cooking on chulha which was traditional cookstove using solid biomasses such as wood and cow dung due to high cost of LPG. Cooking by using biomass fuels on traditional cookstove is the most common activity in rural villages. Kitchen measurements of flue gas released by burning of biomass fuels like wood and cow dung in the indoor environment helped in determining the toxic pollutants such as CO, SO2 and NO2 in the biomass fuels.

In the present study, [Figure 3]a and [Figure 3]b clearly indicated that the emission levels of CO, NO2, and SO2 on burning of biomass fuels from all five villages were significantly higher as compared to LPG and so the exposure to obnoxious gases is less in case of LPG than burning of biomass in a cook stove. The CO values observed here were comparable to values reported by Torres-Duque et al. which ranged from 2 to 50 ppm (mean of 24 h cooking) with peak value of 500 ppm during cooking.[2] The emissions from cow dung cakes and briquette were significantly higher in CO and PM when compared with wood.[24] Permissible exposure limits for COX, NOX, and SOX are 200 ppm, 25 ppm, and 5 ppm, respectively, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.

We found kitchens with small vents in the roof, providing poor ventilation in most of the rural houses surveyed. The chimneys or exhausts were absent in most of the rural kitchens. Such conditions along with less efficient chulhas using huge amounts of biofuels resulted in serious IAP. One of the sources of CO2 generation by household activities is use of biomass fuels such as wood, cow dung and crop residues for cooking. We had experienced, those women from rural villages use feasible combination of different biomass fuels for domestic cooking. Combining both wood and cow dung is a very common practice, whereas some households use only single biomass. Thereby, it is very difficult to totally compare the present study to the others since each deal with diverse types and amount of biomass fuels for cooking. Furthermore, the emission values of these harmful gases will differ depending on different parameters such as time of exposure, varying sample durations and techniques, and humidity.

Thus, the exposure to these obnoxious gases, especially CO2 was reduced by entrapping them in sewage and agricultural field runoff. The data recommended to grow the algae in sewage only as it is inexpensive compared to synthetic medium and also indicates that the hazardous flue gases could serve as nutrients for the growth of algal biomass. Sewage can, therefore, be a better alternative for entrapment of flue gas from a cook stove. There have been many reports in which the use of flue gas for cultivation of algae without harmful effects has been discussed.[25],[26],[27] Flue gas entrapped by combustion of biomass fuels had IC content in the order of wood > sawdust > cow dung > algal consortia. This suggests that carbon content in the flue gas depends on the type of biomass and ultimately the combustion efficacy of the biomass. The flue gas IC content of algal consortia was four times less than that of wood suggesting the algal biomass could be the best CO2 entrapment system and can be used to decrease IAP from rural areas.

Thus, to avoid mixing up two or more different biomass sources during our experiments, the studies on BSE were carried out under laboratory conditions, which will allow us to use single biomass sources at a time, such as only cow dung, or only wood. It is well known that exposure to harmful emissions leads to oxidative stress causing damages in healthy structure of genetic material. The DNA damage due to various BSEs such as sawdust, wood, cow dung, and ABP smoke extracts were demonstrated in the present study. ANOVA test was performed trailed by Tukey's multiple comparison test and exhibited substantial DNA damage in PBMCs due to H2O2 (90.48%), cigarette (76.8%), and cow dung (66.47%) smoke extracts as related to vehicle control 0.2% DMSO (8.29%) (R2 = 0.99 and P < 0.05). There is no noteworthy alteration in DNA damage due to smoke extracts by sawdust and wood (11.63% and 9.87% DNA in tail, respectively) as related to vehicle control.[19] In addition, we found no significant change in DNA damage due to ABP smoke extract (10.02% DNA in tail) in comparison with vehicle control (8.29% DNA in tail).

The use of cow dung cakes was discouraged in rural areas.[19] Several studies revealed that there was no substantial damage in DNA when exposed to controlled wood smoke.[19],[28],[29] Interestingly, ABP did not show oxidative stress to PBMCs, and due to its safety nature, it can be used as an alternative fuel for traditional cook stoves in future. The air quality was also improved by using ABP by the reduction of flue gas emissions. The study, therefore, provides an alternative to biomass fuels in the form of ABP, which would act as sustainable energy source for the cook stoves in rural Pune.


This study was partly supported by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India through research grant (SR/S0/HS/0022/2011) and partly by grant number AKT-2012-005 of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sweden. The financial support from Dr. D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, India, through grant no. DPU/106 (13)/2015 is acknowledged. NW is thankful to Dr. D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth for Project Associateship. The authors are also thankful to team members of Microbial Diversity Research Centre and Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Dr. D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, India, for successful execution of the survey and medical camp.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6]

  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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