American Lung Association Cautions Against Wood-burning and Urges Cleaner Alternatives for Winter Heat

Sep 29, 2008, 01:00 ET from American Lung Association

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As cooler temperatures
 begin to mark the beginning of fall, the American Lung Association warns
 that the comfort of a roaring fire can be harmful to your health and have a
 negative impact on both indoor and outdoor air quality. Burning wood emits
 harmful toxins and fine particles in the air that can worsen breathing
 problems and lead to heart and lung disease and even early death.
     "With energy costs at an all time high, we are concerned about the
 potential impact the increased reliance on wood burning, particularly the
 use of wood stoves, might have on both the environment and the families who
 rely primarily on this method of home heating this winter," said Bernadette
 Toomey President and CEO of the American Lung Association.
     Wood smoke poses a special threat to people with asthma and COPD and
 should be actively avoided by those with lung disease. When possible, the
 American Lung Association strongly recommends using cleaner, less toxic
 sources of heat. Converting a wood-burning fireplace or stove to use either
 natural gas or propane will eliminate exposure to the dangerous toxins wood
 burning generates including dioxin, arsenic and formaldehyde.
     "Wood stoves manufactured before 1995 should be replaced with one that
 is certified by the Environmental Protection Agency and that meets the
 stricter standards set by the State of Washington," noted Toomey. "Vented
 natural gas or certified wood and pellet stoves are suitable replacements,
 as is installing an electric, natural gas or propane furnace."
     Although both natural gas and propane stoves are much cleaner than
 their wood-burning alternatives, these devices must be directly vented
 outside the home to reduce exposure to carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and
 other emissions produced by these energy sources. Advertising claims
 suggest otherwise, however the American Lung Association warns that gas and
 propane stoves can be a threat to any family's health without proper
 outdoor ventilation.
     When building a fire, the American Lung Association urges homeowners to
 take needed steps to build a cleaner fire to reduce the level of toxic
 emissions. Burn only 100 percent untreated wood or manufactured fireplace
 logs. Wood should be purchased early in the year and be stored in a covered
 place for at least six months before use. This will allow the wood
 sufficient time to dry thoroughly and ultimately will burn more efficiently
 and will emit less pollution.
     The American Lung Association also cautions against burning other
 materials such as colored paper, plastics, rubber and trash. These items
 generate more harmful chemicals, increased pollution and produce less heat
 than untreated wood or manufactured fireplace logs.
     "It is also important to comply with local burn bans and to not burn
 wood or other materials during these times," added Toomey. "Every single
 chimney and wood-burning stove can have an impact on the air quality in
 your home and in your community."
     The American Lung Association also advises home owners to be mindful of
 the weather. When air is cold and still, temperature inversions trap wood
 smoke and other pollutants close to the ground. Wood-burning should be
 avoided on hazy, windless days and nights.
     About the American Lung Association: Beginning our second century, the
 American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent
 lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates are
 currently increasing while other major causes of death are declining. The
 American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and
 treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the
 American Lung Association is "Improving life, one breath at a time." For
 more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator
 Four Star Charity, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA
 (1-800-586-4872) or log on to

SOURCE American Lung Association