During 13 winter weeks, an experimental archeology project was undertaken in two Danish reconstructed Viking Age houses with indoor open fireplaces. Volunteers inhabited the houses under living conditions similar to those of the Viking Age, including cooking and heating by wood fire. Carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter (PM2.5) were measured at varying distances to the fireplace. Near the fireplaces CO (mean) was 16 ppm. PM2.5 (mean) was 3.40 mg/m3, however, measured in one house only. The CO:PM mass ratio was found to increase from 6.4 to 22 when increasing the distance to the fire. Two persons carried CO sensors. Average personal exposure was 6.9 ppm, and from this, a personal PM2.5 exposure of 0.41 mg/m3 was estimated. The levels found here were higher than reported from modern studies conducted in dwellings using biomass for cooking and heating. While this may be due to the Viking house design, the volunteer’s lack of training in attending a fire maybe also played a role. Even so, when comparing to today’s issues arising from the use of open fires, it must be assumed that also during the Viking Age, the exposure to woodsmoke was a contributing factor to health problems.
Indoor Air Online, 2015, Vol 25, Issue 3, p. 329-340
Carbon monoxide; Experimental archeology; Personal exposure; PM; Viking Age house; Woodsmoke