Natural gas, believed to be among the cleanest forms of fuel, does emit ultrafine airborne particulate matter when burned in home appliances such as stove tops and water heaters, according to a report in the December 2008 issue (Volume 25, Number 10) of Environmental Engineering Science journal.
Italian researchers measured the particulate matter produced by natural gas domestic burners to assess risk of exposure to organic emissions, which have been associated with increased mortality due to deposition in the lungs, brain, and circulatory system.
Patrizia Minutolo, Andrea D'Anna, Mario Commodo, Rocco Pagliara, Giuseppe Toniato, and Claudio Accordini, from Università Federico II (Napoli), Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR, Napoli), and Riello SpA, Burner Division, used advanced optical diagnostic tools, particle collection methods, and particle size assessment to identify particulate matter with diameters in the range of 1 nm to 10 nm.
Reseachers conclude that while these particles were present in relatively high concentrations in the flame region of home heating burners, these were strongly oxidized, resulting in very low emissions. In contrast, domestic stove tops emitted larger amounts of these very small particles.
"These critical research findings provide important insights regarding the environmental health consequences associated with common place natural gas burners found in many homes," according to Domenico Grasso, PhD, Editor-in-Chief and Dean and Professor in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Vermont (Burlington).
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