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Wood-burning Impacts on Health

Post Date:November 27, 2019 10:05 am

The 2019–2020 Winter Home Wood-Burning Season is HERE!

Please take care to reduce wood-smoke emissions from your fireplace or wood stove. As the weather cools, home fireplaces and stoves are starting to heat up. But while a wood-burning fireplace or stove is cozy indoors, smoke from poorly managed home burning can be harmful for those living nearby.

City staff has sent an article to the Davis Enterprise and other news media with information provided by the Natural Resources Commission Air Quality Subcommittee to inform the community about the health risks of excess smoke. Some of the information is summarized here:

Smoke is dangerous and can affect air quality indoors as well as outside.

Wood smoke contains a variety of harmful gases as well as very small particles that can damage the lungs, blood vessels, and heart. When too many people operate wood-burning fireplaces and stoves at once (or when wood-burning fireplaces and stoves are operated under poor conditions), locally high concentrations of wood smoke can result. 

High smoke concentrations worsen air quality both indoors and out—harmful gases and particles can seep into even tightly sealed, energy-efficient homes. This creates problems for those living nearby. Short-term exposure to wood smoke can cause coughing, trigger asthma attacks, and increase susceptibility to respiratory infection. Long-term exposure can reduce lung function and increase the likelihood of heart attacks and lung cancer. These risks are especially acute for children, the elderly, and those with prior respiratory and/or circulatory conditions. 

If you own a wood-burning fireplace or stove, take these steps to burn cleanly and responsibly.

1) Burn only seasoned, dry hardwood like oak, almond, or walnut instead of softer woods like fir or pine.

2) Burn at a high enough temperature to achieve complete combustion.

3) Do NOT burn when the weather is foggy, wind speeds are low, or air quality is already poor. Subscribe to "Don't Light Tonight" alerts to be notified by email or text of poor wood-burning weather conditions by visiting the Yolo Solano Air Quality Management District (YSAQMD)  website at http://ysaqmd.enviroflash.org/

4) Consider installing or switching out your wood-burning appliance. 

The City’s ‘Nuisance Abatement Ordinance  Burning’ prohibits the emission into the open air of visible smoke from certain residential, indoor wood-burning appliances.(See https://www.cityofdavis.org/city-hall/police-department/code-enforcement/nuisance-burning for more information).

Please think of your family and your neighbors if you enjoy your wood-burning fireplaces or stoves this winter!

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