Learn Before You Burn: Reduce Health and Environmental Hazards with a More Efficient Fire

2As the Indiana temperatures continue to get colder many residents are turning to their fireplaces or wood stoves for warmth. Keep in mind, there are ways to burn a more efficient fire and reduce wood smoke which is harmful to human health and a source of air pollution.

Alison Davis, senior adviser of the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards with the Environmental Protection Agency advises the best way to burn the hottest and most efficient fire possible is to use only dry, seasoned wood. According to her, dry wood burns more completely. This is good for two reasons. First, you get more energy out of the firewood because it burns more of the actual wood. The second reason is the fire then produces less smoke.

Davis disclosed that wood smoke contains fine particle pollution which can cause health problems. When that air is inhaled it can penetrate deep into the lungs where it can cause harm there as well as in the heart and blood vessels. Fine particles are linked to strokes and heart attacks.

If certain materials find their way into your fire, there is the danger of smoke being filled with toxins or harmful chemicals. To avoid the adverse effects of inhaling that smoke, the EPA advises to never burn items such as wood that has been coated, painted or pressure treated or any plastics, foams and other garbage.

To maintain efficiency and proper airflow it is suggested that ashes be regularly removed from your wood-burning stove or fireplace.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency burning a cleaner fire is not only helpful to Hoosiers’ health but also benefits the state’s climate.