Should you be worried about wood smoke?

(NC) There’s nothing like a warm fire on a cold day to nurture your soul. But despite its cozy scent, wood smoke contains pollutants that can be harmful, including chemicals and fine particles. Fine particles can penetrate deep into your lungs and bloodstream, sometimes leading to serious health effects or even death.
If you use a wood stove or fireplace in your home, here are some steps you can take to reduce your health risks:

Maintain your stove

  • Make sure that your wood stove is well-maintained, vented correctly and working properly.
  • Have it inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year.

Clean your chimney

  • Clean your chimney and flues regularly, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Use your dampers

  • Allow more airflow (ventilation) when starting a fire and close the dampers when the wood is well charred. This technique produces more heat, so you use less wood.

Burn wisely

  • Avoid burning wood on days when outdoor air pollution levels are high.
  • Only burn dry, seasoned wood. Cut, split and stack wood in a dry area for at least six months before burning it.
  • Never burn wood that has been painted or chemically treated; household garbage or cardboard; ocean driftwood, plywood, particle board or any wood with glue on or in it; or wet, rotted, diseased or mouldy wood.

If you are looking to upgrade or install a woodstove or fireplace:

  • Choose a low-emission stove
    Install an "advanced combustion" wood stove or fireplace insert to reduce toxic emissions.
  • Look for appliances that have a sticker from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. This sticker certifies that the appliance emits up to 95 per cent fewer particulates and is up to 20 per cent more fuel-efficient than regular models.

Find more information on keeping a healthy home at

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