Health effects of wood smoke

Wood smoke and your health

Wood smoke is a complex mix of chemicals and particles, smoke is made up of coarse and fine particles. Particles are tiny solid and liquid substances that can float in the air. Many particles are invisible. Coarse particles can include soot, dust and pollen. When breathed in these particles settle in the lungs and narrow airways.

Fine dust particles, such as smoke, are more likely to settle more deeply into the lungs while ultra fine particles can be absorbed into the blood stream. The majority of the particles in wood smoke are fine particles, which are linked to the most harmful health effects.

Short term effectsdownload (3)

  • irritation of the eyes, throat and nose
  • coughing
  • difficulty breathing
  • aggravated asthma

Long term effects

  • decreased lung function
  • development of chronic bronchitis
  • cardiovascular effects

What can be done?

Before you throw away the marshmallows, there are steps you can take to decrease the health effects.

Choosing your woodSelfFeedingFire1

  • Only use well-seasoned hardwoods.
  • Do not use stained, treated or painted wood.
  • Chop your wood into smaller pieces.
  • Store your wood loosely stacked and covered in a well-aired place.

Building a fire

  • Use plenty of kindling and paper to establish a good fire quickly.
  • Use smaller logs to get the fire started and larger logs for slower burning.
  • Stack your fire so there is 2cm between each log. This allows air to get into the hot area of the fire.
  • Do not over fill the heater or fire place.

Wood heaters and fireplaces

  • Ensure there is enough air circulation in your wood heater by adjusting the air intake or flue.
  • Check your wood heater and chimney regularly to ensure no smoke is being produced.

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Asthma and respiratory distress 

Do you know how to manage an asthma attack, what would you do if a loved one was showing respiratory distress?

Keep your first aid and resuscitation skills up to date! Book into a public course here.



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