Wood Stove/Respiratory Hazards (Public Service Announcement)

This time of year is notorious for its changing weather -- warm one day, cold and damp the next. If you're using wood heat to take the chills off your home, you need to be aware of the special safety hazard that burning wood can cause to your lungs.

According to the American Lung Association of New York, burning wood improperly can be risky, especially if you don't know what not to do when using wood fuel. Improper burning of wood can endanger your health and property.

Even though wood is a natural fuel, if it is burned incorrectly, it can produce dangerous emissions, including carbon monoxide, organic gases, and smoke. To avoid this, be sure to burn only seasoned hardwoods, such as oak, maple, and hickory. Avoid burning soft woods like pine or fir and never burn newly cut or wet wood.

Never burn painted or treated wood, or wood products containing glue. Never burn magazines, gift wrap, or colored paper. They all produce particles that can clog a fireplace or wood stove's air passages and can also produce noxious, corrosive or even carcinogenic gases.

And be sure you inspect your wood stove or fireplace regularly. Keep them well maintained, and have the chimney cleaned of creosote buildup every year to help prevent chimney fires.

Heating with wood can warm up a damp chilly spring day, but for safety's sake, make sure you burn wood with care.

This public service announcement was produced by the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH). Publication date: 1994.

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More