The chemical and bioreactivity properties of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emitted during controlled burning of different brands of incense were characterized. Incenses marketed as being environmentally friendly emitted lower mass of PM2.5 particulates than did traditional incenses. However, the environmentally friendly incenses produced higher total concentrations of non-volatile polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and some oxygenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (OPAHs). Human alveolar epithelial A549 cells were exposed to the collected PM2.5, followed by determining oxidative stress and inflammation. There was moderate to strong positive correlation (R > 0.60, p <0.05) between selected PAHs and OPAHs against oxidative-inflammatory responses. Strong positive correlation was observed between interleukin 6 (IL-6) and summation of total Group B2 PAHs/OPAHs (Σ7PAHs/ΣOPAHs). The experimental data indicate that emissions from the environmentally friendly incenses contained higher concentrations of several PAH and OPAH compounds than did traditional incense. Moreover, these PAHs and OPAHs were strongly correlated with inflammatory responses. The findings suggest a need to revise existing regulation of such products.
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