PROJECT STOVE SWAP:  wood smoke & health

what is wood smoke?

Smoke forms when organic matter (like wood), burns. While most people recognize the smell, wood smoke is actually composed of a mix of gases, chemicals, and fine particles. The finest particles are small enough to be absorbed by the lungs and enter into the bloodstream. So, even though wood smoke smells good, it’s not good for you.

what are the health effects?

The fine particles and chemicals in wood smoke can lead to a variety of short-term and long-term health issues, including: 

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.
  • Aggravation of asthma and lung inflammation.
  • Repeated exposure is linked to chronic illnesses such as emphysema and bronchitis.
  • Heart disease and irregular heartbeat.

who is most at risk?

  • Children have growing lungs and a faster breathing rate than adults, making them more susceptible to the effects of wood smoke.
  • People with existing heart, lung, or upper respiratory conditions can also be impacted.
  • The elderly and people with already weakened immune systems are also more sensitive to wood smoke.

more information

Learn more about the connection between wood smoke and health with these resources from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: