In December 2019 Health Canada published warnings about the dangers of emissions from wood burning stoves under the title “Wood Smoke.” It emphasized that some groups are especially vulnerable, including people with heart or lung problems and children because their respiratory systems are still developing, and they tend to be more active and inhale more air.
Now, under a headline “Avoid using wood burning stoves if possible, warn health experts,” The Guardian newspaper has just published details of a new report which adds to the growing body of research that reveals such pollution may be damaging every organ in the body with effects including heart and lung disease, diabetes, dementia, reduced intelligence and increased depression. That report was issued last month by the Asthma UK & British Lung Foundation Partnership. Sarah MacFadyen, Head of Policy at the Partnership, stated, “We know that burning wood and coal released fine particulate matter (PM2.5) the most worrying form of air pollution for human health. It is therefore important to consider less polluting options to heat your home or cook with, especially if coal or wood is not your primary fuel source.”
Dr. Nick Hopkinson, Medical Director at the Partnership, said both indoor and outdoor pollution caused by wood burning stoves caused serious health issues from breathing problems to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer.
If you do use a wood burning stove because you have no other choice, it is recommended that you observe the following procedures:
- Keep your flue open to allow plenty of oxygen in while using your stove.
- Start your fire with clean newspaper or dry kindling.
- Only burn clean, dry wood that has been properly seasoned.
- Don’t burn particle board, treated wood, stained wood, painted wood, or wet wood.
- Never start a fire in your wood stove with gasoline, kerosene, charcoal starter, or a propane torch.
- Burn hot, bright fires.
- Let the fire burn down to coals, then rake them into a mound towards the air inlet and stove door. Don’t spread the coals out flat.
- Keep the doors of your stove closed at all times unless you’re tending to the fire.
- Remove ashes from the stove on a regular basis.
Be sure to also follow MV Fire Department’s tips for safety concerning smoke alarms, as follows:
- Under the Ontario Fire Code, every home in Ontario is required to have working smoke alarms.
- Homeowners must ensure that smoke alarms are installed between sleeping and living areas. They are also required to maintain the smoke alarms in working order.
- In rental accommodation, the obligation to install and maintain smoke alarms in operating condition falls to the landlord. Landlords must also provide smoke alarm maintenance information to the occupant of each unit.
- It is an offence for any person to disable a smoke alarm. This requirement applies equally to homeowners, landlords and tenants.
- Failure to comply with the smoke alarm requirements of the Fire Code can result in a minimum