Biomass burning and human health

Emissions from sugarcane burning are known to impact on the respiratory health of sugar estate workers and local populations. Despite this, there have been few studies on occupational and ambient exposures and risks from airborne particulate matter (PM) associated with field burning and ash re-suspension.

During my PhD, I investigated at the impact of sugarcane burning on the respiratory health of workers and surrounding populations. My thesis showed that exposure to particulate matterĀ produced during sugarcane burning, and during extended periods of local exposure to the smoke and re-suspended ash should be considered as both potential acute and chronic respiratory health hazard. The issue of exposure to particulate matter from biomass burning will become increasingly important with the forecasted rise in sugarcane and other biomass production for biofuels.

Le Blond, J.S. et al., 2016. Particulate matter produced during commercial sugarcane harvesting and processing: a respiratory health hazard? Atmospheric Environment, doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.11.012.

Le Blond, J.S. et al. 2014. The surface reactivity and implied toxicity of ash produced from sugarcane burning. Environ Toxicol, DOI: 100/tox.21776.

Le Blond, J.S. et al. 2011. Testing a new method for quantifying Si in silica-rich biomass using HF in a closed vessel microwave digestion system. Analytical Methods, 3:1752-1758.

Le Blond, J.S. et al. 2010. Generation of crystalline silica from sugarcane burning. Environ Monit Assess, 12:1459-1470.

Le Blond, J.S. et al. 2008. Production of potentially hazardous respirable silica airborne particulate from the burning of sugarcane. Atmos Environ, 42(22):5558-5568.