Fuel feedstock determines biodiesel exhaust toxicity in a human airway epithelial cell exposure model

AusREC, WAERP, Katherine R. Landwehr, Jessica Hillas, Ryan Mead-Hunter, Peter Brooks, Andrew King, Rebecca A. O'Leary, Anthony Kicic, Benjamin J. Mullins, Alexander N. Larcombe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Biodiesel is promoted as a sustainable replacement for commercial diesel. Biodiesel fuel and exhaust properties change depending on the base feedstock oil/fat used during creation. The aims of this study were, for the first time, to compare the exhaust exposure health impacts of a wide range of biodiesels made from different feedstocks and relate these effects with the corresponding exhaust characteristics. Method: Primary airway epithelial cells were exposed to diluted exhaust from an engine running on conventional diesel and biodiesel made from Soy, Canola, Waste Cooking Oil, Tallow, Palm and Cottonseed. Exhaust properties and cellular viability and mediator release were analysed post exposure. Results: The exhaust physico-chemistry of Tallow biodiesel was the most different to diesel as well as the most toxic, with exposure resulting in significantly decreased cellular viability (95.8 ± 6.5%) and increased release of several immune mediators including IL-6 (+223.11 ± 368.83 pg/mL) and IL-8 (+1516.17 ± 2908.79 pg/mL) above Air controls. In contrast Canola biodiesel was the least toxic with exposure only increasing TNF-α (4.91 ± 8.61). Conclusion: This study, which investigated the toxic effects for the largest range of biodiesels, shows that exposure to different exhausts results in a spectrum of toxic effects in vitro when combusted under identical conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126637
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2021


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