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Effects of Wood Smoke

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons are produced in abundance when you burn wood.

"They are primarily formed by incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels such as wood, coal, diesel, fat, or tobacco. Tar also contains PAHs. Since human civilization relies so heavily on combustion, PAHs are inevitably linked to our energy production. In this sense, PAH can be thought of as marker molecules as their abundance can be directly proportional to combustion processes in the region and therefore directly related to air quality. Different types of combustion yield different distributions of PAHs."� Wikipedia�



The EPA estimates that the lifetime cancer risk from wood stove smoke is twelve times greater than that from an equal volume of second hand tobacco smoke. (The Health Effects of Wood Smoke, Washington State Department of Ecology)

"Burning two cords of wood produces the same amount of mutagenic particles as: Driving 13 gasoline powered cars 10,000 miles each at 20 miles/gallon. These figures indicate that the worst contribution that an individual is likely to make to the mutagenicity of the air is using a wood stove for heating, followed by driving a diesel car."

 ( Dr. Joellen Lewtas, Contribution of Source Emissions of the Mutagenicity of Ambient Urban Air Particles, U.S. EPA, #91-131.6, 1991 )

Dioxins and furans are some of the most toxic chemicals known to science.

The EPA report confirmed that dioxin is a cancer hazard to people. When you burn wood you produce dioxin.

A recent Lawrence Livermore study found that wood burning was the third largest source of dioxin in many cities.

This photo shows the path of the particulate matter from one OWB, just imagine when there are more than one OWB!




Medical Effects: WHO: Air pollution kills 2M folks a year
By TERESA CEROJANO, Associated Press Writer Thu Oct 5, 2006 5:39 PM ET 
no rainhats image

MANILA, Philippines

The World Health Organization called on governments Thursday to improve air quality in their cities, saying air pollution prematurely kills two million people a year, with more than half the deaths in developing countries.

Reducing pollution from particles that are too small to be filtered in the nose and throat and settle in the lungs could save as many as 300,000 lives every year, according to a statement issued by the WHO's regional office in Manila.

Reducing levels of those extremely small particles caused primarily by the burning of fossil and other types of fuel could cut the deaths from air pollution by about 15 percent, said Maria Neira, the WHO director for public health and the environment.

It also could cut the global burden of disease from respiratory infections, heart disease and lung cancer, she said.

Particulate matter pollution is considered the biggest health risk. But the WHO Air Quality Guidelines also recommended lowering the daily allowed limits for ozone.

That represents a challenge especially for developing countries with numerous sunny days when ozone concentrations reach the highest levels, causing respiratory problems and asthma attacks, WHO said. The guidelines also cut the sulfur dioxide limits.

Many countries around the world do not have regulations for air pollution, which makes control virtually impossible.

WHO said the new guidelines, which were established after worldwide consultation with more than 80 leading scientists, provide the basis for all countries to build their own air quality standards and policies supporting health.
WHO Western Pacific Region Office: http://www.wpro.who.int



Image of a Wood Smoke Particle

Wood smoke particle taken from a human lung enlarged. (Original picture size 3 7/8 " by 3 3/8" at 900x enlargement. "Chest p.1232. Interstitial Lung Disease and Domestic Wood Burning, Ramage, Roggli, Bell and Piantadosi.")

  wood smoke particle

Particulate Size Comparisons: US EPA




Exposure Information

"Who is suffering? The asthmatic or his environment? And what precisely is the nature of his suffering?"
Aaron Lask, Asthma: Attitude and Milieu

"The smoke from burning coal and wood contains substances which are harmful to human health. In residential neighbourhoods, emissions from domestic chimneys become mixed with the air which many people have no choice but to breathe in. The toxins damage the cardiovascular system, cause pulmonary disease, cause certain types of cancer, damage unborn children, cause brain damage and bring on asthma attacks." Simon Francais, UK

"We have learned, that strengthening our ability to solve disease problems, involves the paradox involved in strengthening ourselves... that is... our independence as both people and countries, is achieved through consenting to interdependence."
- Dr. William Foege, Gates Fellow

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