How much less dangerous is breathing smoke from burning wood and coal compare to smoking tobacco?

Edit: Sorry. I should have made the question clearer.

If this were an experiment, it would be set up like this. Subject 1 is a control, so he is exposed to smoke from burning tobacco for a year. Subject 2 is exposed to smoke from burning maple leaves for a year. Subject 3 is exposed to smoke from burning pine needles for a year. The other subjects continue in this fashion, being exposed to smoke from many different sources. The rats are examined for lung cancer through this year and for the remainder of their lives. What would the expect results of this experiment be?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Umm, not at all? What makes you think tobacco smoke is more dangerous? If anything, I would expect tobacco smoke to be the least dangerous of the three. $\endgroup$
    – terdon
    Jan 4 '14 at 3:02
  • $\begingroup$ I would rate any of these smokes as dangerous. Avoid exposure if possible. How dangerous it is, depends on several factors, e.g. what is burned, at which temperature, if the burning process is complete (incomplete burning leaves more dangerous substances etc.). This is a complex process. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jan 4 '14 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ Although, a suppose when you're talking about "danger", sitting around a campfire / coalstove is not highly addictive, as nicotine is... $\endgroup$ Jan 4 '14 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Oreotrephes the point is that if you ingest the same quantities of any of these types of smoke, they will cause serious health issues. Of the three, I expect cigarette smoke to be the least noxious. $\endgroup$
    – terdon
    Jan 4 '14 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ @terdon I see what you're saying. See below for my answer, which interprets the question epidemiologically rather than, I don't know, toxicologically? $\endgroup$ Jan 4 '14 at 15:37

(at an epidemiological scale)

WHO on tobacco

more than one billion smokers worldwide...

Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people each year.

WHO on indoor air pollution

Around 3 billion people still cook and heat their homes using solid fuels in open fires and leaky stoves. About 2.7 billion burn biomass (wood, animal dung, crop waste) and a further 0.4 billion use coal...

Nearly 2 million people a year die prematurely from illness attributable to indoor air pollution due to solid fuel use.

  • $\begingroup$ And I realize the dosage differs here – people aren't intentionally inhaling quantities of wood / coal smoke. $\endgroup$ Jan 4 '14 at 15:39

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