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Can Fireplace Smoke Be Harmful?

Can fireplace smoke be harmful? Understanding the answer to this question is important for today’s fireplace owners. Owning a wood-burning fireplace can be a great joy, but there are some key points that homeowners need to understand about what happens when wood burns in relation to the topic of health. The following information is designed to shed some light on this important topic. 

Burning wood in your fireplace during those cold winter months can help to keep you warm, and comfortable. Enjoying the warmth of your fire is the perfect way to enjoy a winter evening. At the same time, it is important for you to note that your cozy winter fire can also be the cause of health issues. 

The tiny particles that release from your wood fire can end up getting into your lungs. This can lead to harm for people who suffer from underlying health problems. They can affect the lungs and they can also cause issues for the heart as well. With these points in mind, it is important to read further about the ways that wood-burning fireplaces can impact your health.

Are Wood-Burning Fireplaces Bad for Your Health?

Are wood-burning fireplaces bad for your health? This is a common question that homeowners want to know the answer to. The reality is that there are some health risks posed by wood-burning fireplaces. The reason for this is the unseen particles and pollutants that are released into the air by wood-burning fireplaces. 

Thousands of different chemical constituents are released when wood burns. Many of these particles are small enough that the lungs are unable to filter them out efficiently. This can allow them to travel around the rest of the body. The smaller particles emitted by wood-burning fireplaces are difficult for the lungs to filter and so are many of the toxic gases that are released. 

Though wood-burning fireplaces can pose health risks, there are certain groups of people that are the most susceptible to these dangers. They include:

  • Individuals with pre-existing pulmonary conditions
  • Individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions
  • Individuals with COPD
  • Asthmatics

Individuals who fall into these categories are more likely to end up getting infections such as bronchitis if they are around a wood-burning fire. They also increase their risk of heart issues.

How Much Exposure Is Dangerous?

The point of this information is not to dissuade homeowners from using wood-burning fireplaces. The reality is that most people can enjoy the warmth and comfort of a wood-burning fire for a few hours, or even overnight. This is the case for people that are healthy and do not have pre-existing conditions that can make a wood-burning fireplace more problematic. 

Those who do have conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular conditions, or COPD are more vulnerable to the health risks posed by wood-burning fireplaces. Because of this fact, these individuals should limit their exposure and avoid continual/daily exposure to wood-burning fires

Can You Get Smoke Inhalation From a Fireplace?

When fireplace owners ask the question can fireplace smoke be harmful, one of the most common things they want to know is if it is possible to get smoke inhalation from a fireplace? The term smoke inhalation refers to the act of breathing in the combustion products generated by a fire. Its symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Skin condition changes
  • Headache
  • Noisy breathing
  • Hoarseness 
  • Damage to the eyes 
  • Chest pain
  • The presence of soot in the throat or nose
  • A decrease in one’s level of alertness

Smoke inhalation is a major concern and these symptoms should never be ignored if they are present. The reality is that a properly vented wood-burning fireplace should prevent you from suffering from serious issues related to smoke inhalation. 

If you are experiencing these smoke inhalation symptoms after using your wood-burning fire, there is probably a ventilation issue that needs to be addressed by fireplace professionals. A wood-burning fireplace that is not properly vented can also cause a buildup of carbon monoxide.

Are Wood Burning Fireplaces Bad for Asthma?

The topic of asthma comes up frequently when asking the question can fireplace smoke be harmful? The truth is that wood-burning fireplaces can be problematic for those who suffer from asthma. Doctors commonly advise their asthmatic patients to limit the amount of exposure they have to wood-burning fires. 

Too much exposure to a wood-burning fire for an asthmatic can end up triggering an asthma attack or bronchitis. Prolonged exposure to wood-burning fires for asthmatics can also lead to an aggravation of lung and heart disease.

Can You Get Sick From Fireplace Smoke?

As has been noted, it is possible to get sick from too much exposure to fireplace smoke. For healthy individuals, the amount of exposure can be far more than what can be tolerated by those with underlying health conditions. There are also some steps that homeowners can take to reduce the risk that they will get sick as a result of their wood-burning fireplace. These steps include:

  • Only burn wood that is dry and has been split and stored for a minimum of six months (The wood should be stored covered)
  • Have a tight-fitting door installed on your wood-burning fireplace 
  • Get your fireplace and chimney professionally inspected and cleaned every year 
  • Make sure the room your fireplace is located in has proper ventilation  
  • Start fires with small pieces of dry wood and newspaper 
  • Never burn wood that has been pressure-treated  
  • Never burn garbage or plastic in your wood-burning fireplace

Our team here at Fireplace Concepts Inc is standing by and ready to answer all of your questions about the topic of wood-burning fireplaces. We are the Lexington, KY area’s leading fireplace service provider. You can count on our team for tear-outs/makeovers, new fireplace construction, and services for existing fireplaces. We are also your go-to experts for fireplace inspection services designed to ensure that your wood-burning fireplace is functioning safely and efficiently. Give us a call today or leave us a message to find out more about the services that we offer here in the greater Lexington, KY area.