Q. "How does wood burning affect my respiratory health?"
A. Wood burning exposes you and your neighbors to combustion by products called smoke. Wood smoke (WS) is the other second hand smoke. It is hard to get away from as neighborhood smoke seeps indoors even if you dont burn! You know about the effects of cigarette smoke on your respiratory system. All smoke is harmful to the respiratory system. Delicate tissues that are infected, irritated and scarred can cause long trending health consequences.
WS contains many irritating gases and chemicals, however the biggest danger is particulate matter so small that thirty particles fit on a red blood cell. Unlike a soft tobacco tar, the WS particles can be solid, chemical coated pieces of wood. Once inside the lung these wooden daggers swell up in the moist atmosphere and can cause even more damage than a softer smoke. How your body responds to this challenge has a lot to do with preexisting health problems, previous smoke exposures, and your age and genetics. Cardiopulmonary disease also increases risk.
We know that WS causes adverse respiratory health outcomes. Some of these include decreased pulmonary function in children, exacerbation of asthma, increased hospital admissions for lower respiratory infections, increase of sinus infection and bronchitis. WS exposure makes it hard to recover when you are ill. It can lead to premature death. Basically everyone should try to avoid smoke exposure just as they would logically wish to shun tobacco smoke.
A. Burning wood exposes you and your neighbors to combustion by products called smoke. Woodsmoke is the other second hand smoke. It is hard to get away from, as neighborhood smoke comes indoors even if you dont burn! Consider what you know about the effects of cigarette smoke on your respiratory system. Woodstoves, fireplaces, open burning, cooking over wood, all create very toxic air pollution.
The American Lung Association published this information in a report on wood burning in 1999. "Animal toxicological studies demonstrate a reduction in pulmonary anti-bacterial defense mechanisms associated with woodsmoke exposure. More than 90% of the woodsmoke particle mass consists of fine particles, the fraction of pm that many researchers consider to have the greatest association with adverse health outcomes. Persons at higher risk include young children, the elderly, and people with preexisting cardiopulmonary disease. Demonstrated effects include increased pulmonary symptoms, increased hospital admissions for lower respiratory infections, exacerbation of asthma, and decreased pulmonary function in school-age children. Woodsmoke can also be indirectly linked with a variety of other pm-associated outcomes, including increased risks of school absenteeism, emergency room visits and hospitalizations for cardiopulmonary conditions, and mortality.
Woodsmoke emissions also contain components such as carbon monoxide (an asphyxiant), various irritant gases such as nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid, and aldehydes such as formaldehyde and acrolein, and chemicals known or suspected to be carcinogens, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), oxygenated PAHs, and polychlorinated dioxins and furans.
Mary J. Rozenberg, BM, MM, member of American Association for Aerosol Research and International Society of Exposure Analysis, founded Burning Issues/Clean Air Revival, Inc. in 1987 to further research and education about the health effects of woodsmoke. Burning Issues started "November Is Woodsmoke Awareness Month" in 1996. @Burning Issues 2000
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