Indoor Air Quality in Central Appalachia Homes Impacted by Wood and Coal Use

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Though the high prevalence of biomass fuel use in the developing world is widely known, the use of burning biomass for cooking and heating in the developed world is under-recognized. Combustion materials including coal and wood are also used for heating in some areas of the United States. We conducted a pilot study to assess the feasibility of conducting indoor environmental monitoring in rural Appalachia. We sought to explore the type of biomass being used for home heating and its impact upon indoor air quality in non-heating and heating seasons. Residential indoor air monitoring for particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO) was conducted in Lee County, Virginia. Homes had evidence of poor indoor air quality with high concentrations of indoor PM and a large burden of cigarette smoking. Further characterization of indoor combustion material use in this region to determine the health impacts associated with such exposures is warranted.