Burn Wise - U.S. EPA Program
Burn Wise - U.S. EPA Program
It's the time of the year to cozy up to a roaring fireplace, but did you know that wood stoves and other wood-burning appliances can produce pollutants that can harm your health.

If you smell smoke inside your home, that’s an alarm that harmful air pollutants are in your home. Wood smoke contains a mixture of air pollutants including microscopic particles. Studies show particle pollution can harm the lungs and heart and even cause early death.

Particle pollution can trigger asthma attacks, impair lung development in children, increase symptoms of COPD and cause coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness. For people with heart disease, particle pollution is linked to heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and stroke. People at greater risk from particle pollution, including wood smoke, are older adults, children and teens, and people with certain health conditions such as heart or lung disease and asthma. Some studies indicate diabetes and obesity may increase the risk. New or expectant mothers may also want to take precautions to protect the health of their babies. Burning the right wood, the right way, in the right wood-burning appliance can reduce harmful air pollution.

Burn the Right Wood
Not all wood is the same. Burn dry, seasoned wood to reduce particle pollution. Softwoods such as Douglas fir need six months to dry and hardwoods such as oak need at least 12 months. Garbage, plastic, treated lumber, and driftwood should never be burned. They emit toxic fumes and particles. Learn how to prepare wood for burning in the Split, Stack, Cover and Store video.

Burn the Right Way
Wet wood is a problem for your health and your pocketbook. It creates a lot of smoke and burns inefficiently, meaning the heat literally goes up in smoke. Buy an inexpensive moisture meter at a hardware store to test the wetness of your wood before burning. Wood should only be used if the moisture content is 20 percent or less.

Burn in the Right Appliance
Like an old car that belches smoke out of the tailpipe, old wood stoves are bad polluters and less efficient. Newer, EPA-certified wood stoves and fireplace inserts (wood stoves designed to fit into a fireplace), reduce air pollutants by 70 percent compared to older models.

Learn before you burn! Visit the EPA Burnwise website for more information.