Burlington County Times: Where there’s smoke, there’s trouble.

Where there is wood smoke, there is fire – as well as invisible toxins you could be inhaling.  A little soot exposure probably isn’t harmful to most people, pulmonologists say, but a new Danish-led study suggests regular exposure could damage DNA. Local doctors call the findings interesting, though the implications in the United States are unclear since wood-burning stoves and fireplaces are generally used only a few months of the year. Short-term health effects of wood-smoke particles on people with airway problems are well-known, the doctors said, as are other potential health hazards such as carbon-monoxide gas buildup, which is also invisible and dangerous.

* * * Wood-smoke particles are the fine powder containing mostly carbon, left after wood is burned. Long-term exposure increases the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to equal that of a cigarette smoker, Dhand said. Recent medical literature has found that smoke from burning solid fuels like wood worsens respiratory diseases. More . . .

New Bedford Standard-Times: Boston University professor undertakes New Bedford-wide public health study.

A Boston University professor is spearheading a three-year, wide-ranging public health study of the city’s population that will look for trends and patterns of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — commonly referred to as ADHD — and cardiovascular disease amid a confluence of health factors, ranging from urban pollution to personal dieting.Jon Levy, a professor at the university’s School of Public Health, is leading the study, which he says will analyze health risks for people who have multiple “stressors.”

Part of the study will focus on chemicals that may contribute to ADHD and cardiovascular disease.  For the former, the study will examine links to environmental tobacco smoke, lead, mercury, and PCBs. Levy’s analysis of ADHD in the community also will take into account risk factors such as prenatal tobacco and alcohol exposure, family history of ADHD, gender, socioeconomic status and low birth weight. For cardiovascular disease, the study will consider traffic-related particulate matter, lead, mercury and environmental tobacco, as well as “non-chemical stressors,” such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and age.

The study will cover the entire city, said Levy, not just neighborhoods that abut sites that have a history of contamination, such as New Bedford Harbor or the Parker Street Waste site.

Levy and researchers from Harvard Unviersity and Brigham and Women’s Hospital hope to create a “cumulative risk assessment,” through culling existing population data throughout the city and meshing that with other sources of information. More . . .