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In this review, the methods of production of smoke, smoke flavours, wood distillates, and fast pyrolysis vapours are briefly addressed. Then the reported composition of the products from these processes is compared to give the reader a feeling for their relative similarity. From the list of compounds reported to be in fast pyrolysis condensates at over 0.1% and for a few other selected compounds of interest, the toxicity of each compound, for which information is available, is listed.

The oral toxicity of a worst case scenario, hypothetical fast pyrolysis oil containing the maximum reported level of each compound reported is calculated and compared to toxicity data reported for pyrolysis products. It is concluded that compounds from the aldehyde and furan families found in some fast pyrolysis oils constitute the worst oral and inhalation health hazards. The chronic health effects would also be related to the aldehydes as the potential source of problems, unless the severity of the pyrolysis is so high as to create significant quantities of benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

The reported toxicity of smoke, smoke food flavours, and fast pyrolysis oils is reviewed. The data found for these complex mixtures suggest that the toxicity may be less than that of the individual components. It is speculated that there may be chemical reactions that take place that serve to reduce the toxicity during aging.

Additional information

Authors: DIEBOLD J P, Biomass Thermochemical Conversion Consultant, Thermalchemie Inc., Lakewood (US)
Bibliographic Reference: A chapter in "Fast Pyrolysis of Biomass: a handbook, Volume 1", EUR 18913. CPL Press, 1999. 194pp. 35 pounds sterling
Availability: Available from: CPL Press, Liberty House, The Enterprise Centre, New Greenham Park, Newbury, RG19 6HW, UK Tel: +44-1635-817408 Fax: +44-1635-817409 Email:
ISBN: 1-872691-07-2
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