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Old 12-15-2008, 05:07 PM
 
350 posts, read 2,050,605 times
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I went to a holiday party the other night and there was a big roaring fire in the home in front of which everyone gathered as we ate desserts. The fire was in the fireplace, and there were a bunch of wood (real wood) logs in there. It made the living room look and feel very cozy.

However, after about 15 minutes of sitting near it while socializing, I couldn't take the smell anymore. I felt that the air was saturated with the heavy smell of wood smoke. Normally I kind of like that smell but I felt that there was no fresh air in the room, and I was sitting to the side of the fire so for some reason the fumes were escaping.

I had to leave the party early. I was having chest tightness and my throat hurt. I went home and did a bunch of research online, and found out that wood smoke from fireplaces or wood burning stoves is toxic! I had no idea. I have often smelled the nice wood smoke smell from chimneys in the neighborhood on a cold winter's night. It turns out that the smoke is highly toxic and can cause lung cancer, lung damage and heart disease.

I was only in front of the fire/enveloped in the smoke for 15 minutes, but even days after I am still feeling the after effects--tight chest, sore throat. I don't have asthma or anything like that, and I have never smoked a cigarette. These sensations developed while I was sitting in front of the fire and are lingering. I felt that the air was saturated with the smoke from the fire, I felt like there wasn't any fresh air at all. I am very worried that I am having lung damage occurring already from this.

I had no idea that wood smoke was such a health hazard. I read articles about some neighborhoods that ban burning a fire in the fireplace altogether. I also read about how if your neighbor burns a fire in the fireplace, the smoke can get into your house and cause problems for you.

We are about to buy our first house, and now this is another thing on my list of potential concerns about buying a house--i.e. having neighbors who burn a wood fire in their fireplace.
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Old 12-15-2008, 05:29 PM
 
Location: Back in New York
1,105 posts, read 2,554,701 times
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breathing in any kind of smoke is unhealthy. Fireplaces look nice but I would not have one.
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Old 12-28-2008, 11:25 PM
 
10 posts, read 109,724 times
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I have had a similar problem to my lung function when I was bike riding in the countryside in October and there were many people burning leaf piles at the same time so the air was so smokey. I breathed in so much smoke that I was coughing for 2 weeks and had diminished lung function for awhile. Lung function did seem to recover and one incident should not cause permanent harm for you. You might want to see check with your doctor if you have a deficiency of alpha 1 antitrypsin which can make you much more susceptible to lung damage. I've noticed the same problem from wood fires and fireplaces when the smoke was not well contained. here in Oregon there is a lot of wood burning for heat which on some days and nights accumulates in the valley I live so that the air quality is greatly dimished. When you go out you get a sore throat and start to cough a lot. Even driving through it the smoke gets into the car. It would be good for you and your family to find a less smokey area to live in. Generally this will only be possible with states having warmer climates. Good luck and don't worry too much about permamant damage, I hope you'll feel better soon
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Old 12-28-2008, 11:46 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
7,688 posts, read 9,057,327 times
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3 possibilities: 1. You are allergic to wood smoke--I am too, which breaks my heart b/c I love a good fire. 2. The room may have been poorly ventilated, and some carbon monoxide may have been present, but not in a large enough quanitity to kill anyone 3. Poor choice of firewood--pine is really smoky

I wouldn't worry about moving into a neighborhood where people burn firewood--it's mixed with enough fresh air that I don't think it would hurt you, even over the long run--I'd worry much more about unnatural chemicals in teflon pans and such
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Old 01-23-2009, 02:37 AM
 
11 posts, read 80,276 times
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Lightbulb Studies show wood smoke increases death rates

Quote:
Originally Posted by stepka View Post
I wouldn't worry about moving into a neighborhood where people burn firewood--it's mixed with enough fresh air that I don't think it would hurt you, even over the long run--I'd worry much more about unnatural chemicals in teflon pans and such
Don't know of any good studies of teflon pans, but the problem of living in smoky neighborhoods has been studied. In Christchurch, NZ, people who live in areas where wood smoke builds up have about 16% higher death rates overall and 68% higher death rates for respiratory diseases than people who live in areas with very little wood smoke - see http://www.3sc.net/airqual/mapping.html

Unfortunately, there's a lot of ignorance about the health effects of wood smoke. People think that because our ancestors lived in smoky caves (and had average life expectancy of 28 years), smoke isn't harmful.

Of course smoke is harmful, that's why: "When possible, the American Lung Association strongly recommends using cleaner, less toxic sources of heat." - Latest Press - American Lung Association site (http://www.lungusa.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=34893&ct=6014983&notoc %20=1 - broken link)

This is why the California's Healthy Hearths Program bans prohibits wood-burning devices in new homes, and strongly encourages people in existing homes to convert to non-polluting heating - Why Healthy Hearths?

Once upon a time people thought that cigarettes were healthy, but when statisticians compared death rates with smoking habits, the evidence told a totally different story. The same has now happened with wood smoke, which contains the same and very similar chemicals to cigarette smoke and is associated with the same and similar health problems, including respiratory diseases, heart diseases, middle ear infections and mouth and throat cancers.

People who care about these risks and don't live in an area covered by a Healthy Hearths program should ask their local politicians to consider introducing one. This will help people understand that wood smoke is harmful and fewer and fewer people will want to expose their family, their friends and their guests to it.
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Old 01-23-2009, 03:06 AM
 
Location: Not where you ever lived
10,860 posts, read 15,262,420 times
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I live with a double lung patient: COPD and Fibrosis. What I learned was MOLD surrounds us outside in every state in the union. You cannot avoid it. The answer is to keep the windows and doors closed at home. And change your furnace filters regularly. I cange ours every two eeks. I buy the 3M 1400 or higher because they removed most of the things that irritate the lungs. The best fireplace is a gas log. It looks pretty but it has no smoke or fume. A really good one is pricey but they are so realitic right down to the glowing cinders. And they are warm too.
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Old 01-25-2009, 06:03 AM
 
Location: Garden City, MI
15 posts, read 79,670 times
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I've started to research ways that I can prevent inhaling the smoke that has been pumping out of my neighbor's home. They are burning wood to heat their house (I know, so old school), but...it has been causing my home to smell like smoke, including my hair and clothing. It is difficult for me to breathe when they burn and it wakes me from my sleep. I'm also pregnant, which worries me because wood smoke has been medically proven to create health issues, including low birth weight in babies.

Please become active in your community. I'm starting to. Half of my neighbors have the same issues, but i fear are unwilling to complain. One man I spoke to (retired blue collar worker) was extremely defensive and felt the need to let me know that it is his right to burn what he wishes. Very sad.
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Old 02-03-2009, 11:50 AM
 
10 posts, read 109,724 times
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I feel very bad for your situation with having that wood smoke exposure and being pregnant. The wind currents in your immediate area and the spatial arrangement of the houses must be conducive to smoke hitting your house just the right way and getting in. If you or someone else can tightly weatherproof the windows and doors with caulk and weatherstripping, and get an effective HEPA filter for every room, you may be able to remove 99% of the smoke infiltration. When I open the door to the outside the smoke is so strong, but it is rare that I ever smell it inside and only if I have the oven hood fan turned on which draws outside air to the inside. Ever since I started using the HEPA filter its been like breathing fresh air right after a rain! The filter does get clogged with the nasty dust and particulates its supposed to be filtering in about a months time which is evidence of how effective they are. You just need to clean them on a regular basis. They can been costly, upwards of $100 to $200 per room, but would be worth it if you can afford it. The wood smoke particles cause inflammation not just of the lungs but also of the blood vessels in the whole body, including heart, and brain. Heart attacks rise after bad air alerts. You could print the info from EPA's website about air particulates and show the blue collar man how it causes heart attacks, that is if you have the activist spirit to do so. You may be saving his very life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ConcernedMama View Post
I've started to research ways that I can prevent inhaling the smoke that has been pumping out of my neighbor's home. They are burning wood to heat their house (I know, so old school), but...it has been causing my home to smell like smoke, including my hair and clothing. It is difficult for me to breathe when they burn and it wakes me from my sleep. I'm also pregnant, which worries me because wood smoke has been medically proven to create health issues, including low birth weight in babies.

Please become active in your community. I'm starting to. Half of my neighbors have the same issues, but i fear are unwilling to complain. One man I spoke to (retired blue collar worker) was extremely defensive and felt the need to let me know that it is his right to burn what he wishes. Very sad.
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:25 PM
 
Location: Not where you ever lived
10,860 posts, read 15,262,420 times
Reputation: 5386
It is too cold to caulk the windows outside now, unless you live in sunny CA. Put a heavy cover on the windows and do not open the door that faces that house. That migh thelp. You may need an expert to determine how the stuff is getting in the house. Use a small fan in your room to try to low the smoke out. Try an air sanitizer. But be careful about sprays and all chemicals, you are having a baby. You might check city ordinances about the wood smoke and by all means DO. DO, DO, document the side effects with your doctor because of baby.

Last edited by linicx; 03-18-2012 at 10:12 AM..
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Old 03-14-2009, 06:51 PM
 
2 posts, read 49,090 times
Reputation: 21
I have COPD. Before this winter began I had 48% lung function and was feeling like I could live a normal life. But the wanna be daniel boones of my small town have been choking me out all winter long with there wood smoke. I just got back from the Pulmonologist and he told me I had lost 12% more of my lung function---most likely due to wood smoke inhalation! Go ahead wood lovers--fire them stoves up--kill your lungs--i hope you all DIE!
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