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Not Your Mother’s Smoke


Ah, the smell of smoke. I used to burn in my fireplace. For years, the family would gather ‘round, toast marshmallows, make ‘smores, talk about our day. Then, my neighbor called me. She was near tears. She told me that the smoke from my many fires was making her life a misery. An hour’s worth of online research later, I shut down my fireplace for good. After you read this, I hope you will do the same.

Wood smoke is loaded with toxic chemicals. It is just as bad for you as cigarette smoke. In fact, it is much worse.

Wood smoke contains particulate matter (PM2.5), carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, dioxins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).23. Wood smoke particles are so ultra fine (about 1/45th the width of a human hair) they behave like gases. Seventy percent of wood smoke reenters your home and the homes of your neighbors.

You think cigarettes are bad? One hour of wood burning is equal to burning 6,000 packs of cigarettes. Wood smoke is now classified as a Class One carcinogen. It causes significant DNA damage. Wood smoke pollutes the air, interferes with lung development in children and increases a child’s risk for serious lower respiratory infections. Exposure can depress one’s immune system and cause headaches, asthma, sore throat, itchy eyes.

We used to think that lead paint was okay, and DDT was perfectly fine. We didn’t worry about asbestos or cigarette smoke. Now we know better. We need to stop harming ourselves and others by burning wood. Remember this: There is no amount of wood smoke that is safe to breathe.

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