Fireplaces have been pouring smoke into the environment for centuries and we now know that they also emit poisons
into your home. People who seem to catch colds in the winter and simply can’t shake them should consider whether or not their fireplace is what’s making them sick And it doesn’t necessarily have to be your fireplace making you sick. When dozens of people on the same street use fireplaces smoke can get trapped in the neighborhood, particularly areas that lie in a gully. Breathing smoke everyday can have hazardous affects.
Whether you use a fireplace as a source of heat or just for pleasure you may not realize how much it could be harming yourself and your family. Wood, when it burns, lets off contaminants that not only pour into the outside world but into our homes as well. Your home doesn’t have to appear full of smoke for it to be affecting you, either.
Being exposed to small particles in the air from your wood stove can cause breathing problems, eye irritation, coughing, nausea, dizziness and asthma. And studies have proven that long-term exposure to wood burning can even weaken the body’s immune system. And, the health risks are even greater for individuals who have a history of heart or respiratory problems. These individuals, and children, are the most at risk.
The best thing to do is to use an alternative heat source but when sticking with the fireplace there are some precautions you can take to lower the risk to yourself and your family. Install an advanced combustion wood stove or fireplace insert. Look for the U.S. EPA sticker on the insert that certifies the appliance significantly reduces the risks of smoke and other pollutants entering your home.
Another step you can take is to use only wood that is clean, cut and well seasoned, meaning it should be left sitting, after cut, for at least 6 months. Close the dampers after getting the fire pretty well started. Don’t burn chemically treated wood or wood that has been painted, wet, or moldy.
Make sure to have your chimney checked regularly. Build-up of soot can narrow the escape path for the smoke sending some back into your house and risking fire. If you can do without it, close the fireplace down and consider switching to gas or electric heat. You may find that your allergies, stuffy nose, sniffling, sore throats and colds will all go away.