At least one earlier study linked biomass smoke exposure to emphysema and related lung conditions, but it did not report pulmonary function test results.
In this study, Dr. Om P. Kurmi from University of Birmingham, UK and colleagues used validated measures of lung disease to test their hypothesis that exposure to the products of biomass fuel use is associated with reduced lung function and increased airflow obstruction, compared with exposure to liquefied petroleum gas, in 1392 young adults from Nepal.
FEV1, FEV1/FVC, and FEF25-75 were significantly lower in biomass fuel-using participants even after adjusting for potential confounders, but there was no significant association between FVC and biomass use.
None of the lung function parameters was significantly associated with carbon monoxide levels or particle counts.
The prevalence of airflow obstruction was significantly higher in the biomass smoke exposed group (8.1%) than in the non-biomass exposed group (3.6%). This finding was true among the youngest participants (16-25 years), regardless of smoking status, and among lifelong nonsmokers.
“We have shown that exposure to biomass smoke results in a doubled risk of airflow obstruction in a biomass smoke exposed group population in Nepal after allowing for other factors but that cigarette smoking has an additive effect,” the investigators conclude.
“The observation that these associations were evident by late teenage years suggests that biomass smoke exposure during childhood may impair lung growth,” they add.