Wood Smoke Pollution
Modern wood heating appliances (wood stoves, boilers or furnaces) can create dense plumes of smoke for hours at a time. Whether visible or not, wood smoke contains:
- Fine Particles (PM2.5)
- Carbon Monoxide
- Nitrous Oxides
- Sulfur Dioxide
- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Health Risks from Wood Smoke Pollution
The chance a person will experience health effects as a result of exposure to smoke depends on the concentration of air pollutants they breathe and the duration of their exposure.
- Breathing wood smoke is a health risk, especially for children, the elderly, people with asthma, heart disease and other respiratory ailments.
- Exposure to fine particles in wood smoke can trigger or aggravate respiratory and cardiovascular problems.
- When wood burners have short stacks or are located close to homes, there is a greater potential for smoke to create a health hazard for both the homeowner and neighbors.
Unfortunately, the toxic gases and fine particles in wood smoke are so small that they can penetrate into homes, even when windows and doors are closed.
Reducing Wood Smoke Pollution
If you are a homeowner with a wood heating appliance such as a wood stove or fireplace insert:
- Use only an EPA approved wood burning appliance.
- Only burn dry wood, never burn treated lumber, trash or recyclables.
- Preheat your firebox with a small hot kindling fire, before loading with wood.
- Open the damper before opening the stove, to minimize smoke in the home.
- Extend your chimney or stack above the roofline of your and neighboring houses.
- Watch the wind and weather - burn when smoke dispersal is away from buildings.
- If you or your neighbors still experience smoke odors, switch to a natural gas burner.