It is healthier for you to burn wood in your home. Although burning wood does produce carbon dioxide and some airborne particulates which can cause health issues if exposed to prolonged inhalation, it is nowhere near as harmful to humans as inhalation of coal burning byproducts. The burning of coal is responsible for for 33% of all mercury emissions on the planet. Other airborne pollutants released from coal include: sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide. Very dirty stuff.
Although burming wood might be the lesser of two evils, far better to use non-polluting fuels, e.g. flued gas for cooking or heating, or thermostatically controlled electric heat pump.
The American Lung Association “recommends using cleaner, less toxic sources of heat. Converting a wood-burning fireplace or stove to use either natural gas or propane will eliminate exposure to the dangerous toxins wood burning generates including dioxin, arsenic and formaldehyde”
Environmental Health Perspectives has just published a research paper showing that North Americans and Europeans using wood for heating or cooking have a 21% greater risk of lung cancer. More generally, wood smoke contains the same and very similar chemicals to cigarette smoke and is associated with the same health problems – heart and respiratory diseases, middle ear infections, cot deaths, increased risk of colds and flu, with exposure to the PAH in cigarette and wood smoke also associated with reduced IQ when children start school.
People are also beginning to realise that this is also better for the environment. Transition Towns Movement founder, Rob Hopkins, has just opted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by NOT installing a woodstove in his home, after seeing the analysis of the Association for Environmentally Conscious Builders http://www.aecb.net/UserFiles/File/Biomass%20-%20A%20Burning%20Issue%20-%20published%20September%2020101.pdf.
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