New toxin detected in forest fire smoke: Alkaloids
- New toxin detected in forest fire smoke.
By Michael Reilly Discovery Channel 1 May 2009
Scientists have discovered a new class of chemicals emitted from burning
pine trees. From a family of compounds known for their ability to alter
human DNA, the findings could change the way we look at the impact of
forest fires on public health.
Alkaloids are commonly found in nature; plants produce them to help
bolster the structure of leaves and pine needles, and they can be key
nutrients to the right organisms. Many are prized for their beneficial
effects on humans, while a select few, like morphine and caffeine are
But in high enough doses, alkaloids can be potent toxins
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