Summer conjures up images of s’mores and bonfires for many people, but did you know that breathing wood smoke from those fires is harmful for you?
First, let’s consider what wood smoke contains: fine particles, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carcinogens and toxic air pollutants, all of which are extremely harmful to humans and their lungs. The fine particles that make up wood smoke are too small to be filtered out by your body, allowing them to be lodged deep in your lungs and increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Exposure to wood smoke can interfere with lung development in children and increase their risk of respiratory infection. For healthy adults wood smoke can unnecessarily irritate their lungs and eyes. More seriously, wood smoke interferes with the immune system and damages lung cells, reducing protection of the airways – this can cause serious problems for those with chronic conditions whose lungs are already compromised, such as asthma and COPD.
So what can you do? Burn smart if you must, read the EPA’s Strategies for Reducing Residential Wood Smoke for further information, and report violations regarding smoke to protect your family and yourself.