A lot! By one estimate, 35% of the particulate air pollution in the United States comes from residential wood burning–fireplaces and wood stoves. Due to the tremendous impact that residential wood burning has on pollution levels, the EPA has banned “dirty” wood stoves since 1992, instead requiring all new stoves sold to conform to specific air quality standards. Pellet stoves are better but there are still problems associated with them as well. Particulate matter from wood fires can be as dangerous, when inhaled, as smoking 16 cigarettes (nearly a full pack). The figures on air pollution from enclosed residential sources do not take into consideration wood-fuel and residential burning in other parts of the world, particularly poor countries where no other form of heating is available.
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