Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Shannon Z. Jones


Until a few years ago, most scientific investigations related to the health effects of air pollution focused on outdoor air pollutants. But in recent years, the concerns over indoor air pollution has increased. People can spend up to 90% of their time in indoor environments, especially their homes, even more so since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The concentrations of some air pollutants are five times higher than what is found outdoors.

Indoor air pollution exposure remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Approximately half of the global population is exposed to abnormally high concentrations of household air pollutants due to the burning of biomass fuels, accounting for 4 million annual deaths globally (Martin et al. 2011). Biomass fuel is defined as the byproduct of the combustion of plant or animal material. The combustion of wood, charcoal, dung and crop residues accounts for more than half of the energy source in most developing countries and 95% in countries with lower incomes (Torres-Duque et al. 2008). Biomass smoke exposure can occur in multiple ways, including the use of wood stoves or cookstoves, and exposure to forest fires or agricultural burning. Several epidemiological studies have shown that wildland firefighters have temporary reductions in respiratory function associated with their firefighting activities (Betchley et al., 1997). Burning of agricultural residue in rural communities has worsened respiratory symptoms among individuals, especially those with preexisting conditions. Inhalation of biomass smoke is correlated with chronic, inflammatory respiratory diseases including asthma, COPD, lung cancer, and microbial infections. Populations that were temporarily exposed to wildland fire smoke also exhibited an increase in hospital visits compared to those living in smoke-free environments (Mott et al., 2002).

Although there is evidence linking dung biomass smoke exposure with pulmonary diseases, there are few studies investigating the inflammatory effects of biomass smoke on human lung cells.

The use of alternative medicine is increasing in the United States and worldwide. Many people have sought herbal medicine to help with chronic inflammatory diseases and autoimmune disorders to help combat their symptoms. Most of the people directly impacted by biomass smoke are located in developing countries, with limited resources. Inexpensive and readily available naturally occurring compounds may be beneficial in reducing the pro-inflammatory health effects caused by biomass smoke exposure. In this study, we investigated two naturally occurring compounds: resveratrol and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Resveratrol is found in dark-skinned fruits, while epigallocatechin gallate is predominantly found in green tea. Both resveratrol and EGCG are known to have antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, and chemopreventive properties.

This study aimed to examine the underlying molecular and cellular events that result from the exposure of human airway epithelial cells to biomass smoke and show that pretreatment of the epithelial cells with resveratrol and epigallocatechin gallate inhibits the pro-inflammatory effects caused by wood smoke