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Open AccessFeature PaperReview

Forest Volatile Organic Compounds and Their Effects on Human Health: A State-of-the-Art Review

1
Terme di Monticelli, 43022 Monticelli Terme PR, Italy
2
Institute of Public Health, University of Parma, 43125 Parma PR, Italy
3
CERFIT, Careggi University Hospital, 50139 Firenze FI, Italy
4
AUSL-IRCCS Reggio Emilia, 42122 Reggio Emilia RE, Italy
5
Binini Partners S.r.l. Engineering and Architecture, 42121 Reggio Emilia RE, Italy
6
European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association (EHTPA), Norwich NR3 1HG, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(18), 6506; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186506
Received: 9 August 2020 / Revised: 3 September 2020 / Accepted: 4 September 2020 / Published: 7 September 2020
The aim of this research work is to analyze the chemistry and diversity of forest VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and to outline their evidence-based effects on health. This research work was designed as a narrative overview of the scientific literature. Inhaling forest VOCs like limonene and pinene can result in useful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the airways, and the pharmacological activity of some terpenes absorbed through inhalation may be also beneficial to promote brain functions by decreasing mental fatigue, inducing relaxation, and improving cognitive performance and mood. The tree composition can markedly influence the concentration of specific VOCs in the forest air, which also exhibits cyclic diurnal variations. Moreover, beneficial psychological and physiological effects of visiting a forest cannot be solely attributed to VOC inhalation but are due to a global and integrated stimulation of the five senses, induced by all specific characteristics of the natural environment, with the visual component probably playing a fundamental role in the overall effect. Globally, these findings can have useful implications for individual wellbeing, public health, and landscape design. Further clinical and environmental studies are advised, since the majority of the existing evidence is derived from laboratory findings. View Full-Text
Keywords: biogenic volatile organic compounds; phytoncides; pinene; limonene; forest; public health; preventive medicine; review biogenic volatile organic compounds; phytoncides; pinene; limonene; forest; public health; preventive medicine; review
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MDPI and ACS Style

Antonelli, M.; Donelli, D.; Barbieri, G.; Valussi, M.; Maggini, V.; Firenzuoli, F. Forest Volatile Organic Compounds and Their Effects on Human Health: A State-of-the-Art Review. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 6506. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186506

AMA Style

Antonelli M, Donelli D, Barbieri G, Valussi M, Maggini V, Firenzuoli F. Forest Volatile Organic Compounds and Their Effects on Human Health: A State-of-the-Art Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(18):6506. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186506

Chicago/Turabian Style

Antonelli, Michele; Donelli, Davide; Barbieri, Grazia; Valussi, Marco; Maggini, Valentina; Firenzuoli, Fabio. 2020. "Forest Volatile Organic Compounds and Their Effects on Human Health: A State-of-the-Art Review" Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 17, no. 18: 6506. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186506

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