I Hate Fireplaces

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I Hate Fireplaces

Postby Wilberforce » Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:43 am

Home Improvement

I Hate Fireplaces—and It Turns Out, I’ve Got Good Reason To

By Rosie Amodio
3:58 pm ET
December 8, 2015

For years I thought there was something un-American about me. Friends, family and even fictional characters all seemed to romanticize—even idolize—the flickering flames of the hearth. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire… trimming the tree… snuggling on the couch… a fireplace seems to be the quintessential backdrop for just about every indoor winter activity. Who wouldn’t want one in their home?

Me. Others see togetherness and cold-weather salvation. I see a mess.

When a fireplace was discovered behind sheet rock in our home during renovations, my husband and I were asked if we’d like to open it up. There was no hesitation.

“No, thank you,” I replied politely. No way, I thought. Our toddler, the flames, the dirt…

And while I’ve been reluctant to voice my OCD issues on this, I now have environmentalists and health experts on my side.

Turns out wood-burning fireplaces can cause all sorts of grief for the environment and your health. In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, wood smoke contains several toxic pollutants—including benzene, formaldehyde, acrolein and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)—as well as microscopic particles that can irritate the eyes and lungs.

In just hours or days of exposure, wood smoke can cause asthma attacks, bronchitis, and respiratory infections. Long-term exposure over months and years has been linked to cancer and reproductive problems such as infant mortality and low birth weight.

Then there’s the impact on the environment: Wood smoke has been found to contribute to a type of pollution called “haze,” which reduces visibility. In fact, the EPA has found that visibility in America has been cut to one-third of what it should be—a mere 15 to 30 miles—due to haze.

With all these hazards, you’ve gotta ask yourself: Is lounging in front of a roaring fire really worth it?

As news about the downside of wood fires has spread, home tastes are responding accordingly, says Mark Clements of myfixituplife: “Over the last 50 years, the number of fireplaces has dropped precipitously.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of new homes built with a fireplace has been decreasing since 1990, to only about half of all new construction.

This is not to say that you should shun wood-burning fireplaces completely, if you love the ambiance they create. The EPA has launched a voluntary partnership program called “Burn Wise” that helps consumers do just that. Adopt some smart wood-burning practices, and you can curb the negative effects.

The most basic tip? Burn only dry, split, well-seasoned wood (which means it’s been stored in a dry place for at least 6 months). How to tell if it’s ready to burn: Properly seasoned wood is darker, weighs less, and sounds hollow when hit against another piece of wood. (Green wood, which is fresh and still has sap in it, creates a lot of smoke.)

Or, if you’re on the market for a wood stove or want to upgrade to a safer one, buy one that’s EPA certified as producing low emissions of pollutants. In some states, it’ll win you a tax break!

Last but not least, here’s a list of local, municipal and state regulations against burning.

So if my rhetoric has converted you and you’ve sworn to never light another fire in your fireplace again, what’s next? Two steps to be taken: Call in a chimney sweep to get it all cleaned up. And then make your hearth a part of your home decor without burning wood. Some suggestions from Clement:

• Decorate with birch logs, complete with white peeling bark that you vow not to burn.
• Rather than light a fire, light some candles your fireplace to create a cozy glow.
• Sports fan? Decorate with a logo for your favorite team.
• Install a fireback, decorative metal plates that cover the back wall of your fireplace.
• Stack some books in your hearth to tempt people to curl up with a good story.
• Use it as a shrine for seasonal items: holiday villages, goblins for Halloween, and so on.

Of course, this raises the question: What would Santa think?

Rosie Amodio

Rosie Amodio is a writer/editor who has written for brands such as Self, InStyle, Wetpaint, and The Nest. A native New Yorker, Rosie is obsessed with NYC real estate, though she dreams of living on the beach in Southern California.

Follow @rosieamodio

source
http://www.realtor.com/advice/home-impr ... s-are-bad/
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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Wilberforce
 
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