advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Give Up Fireplaces?

I heard a report on the radio the other day that warned against burning wood in fireplaces. I can't believe there's anything wrong with a nice cozy fire. What's the problem?

A
Answer (Published 3/8/2011)

Burning wood in a fireplace can result in the release of toxins, including dioxin, arsenic and formaldehyde, as well as fine particles that can worsen breathing problems in people with asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Wood smoke can also be harmful to adults with congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease. Beyond that, the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition has reported that children living in wood-burning households have higher rates of lung inflammation, breathing problems, pneumonia, and other respiratory diseases.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Respiratory Health - Avoiding smoke and pollution and getting regular exercise can help you breathe easier. Take your health one step further with proper supplements. Get a plan that's optimized for you - a free, personalized recommendation from Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor.

The American Lung Association calls for cleaner, less toxic sources of heat and suggests converting a wood-burning fireplace or stove to use either natural gas or propane as a means of avoiding indoor air pollution with smoke and cutting down on pollution of the environment.

You can have a wood fire that emits only low levels of toxins if you burn only 100 percent untreated wood or specially manufactured fireplace logs. The ALA notes that wood for your fires should be purchased early in the year and stored in a covered space for at least six months before use. This is enough time for the wood to dry thoroughly so that it will burn efficiently and smoke less. The ALA also warns against burning such materials as colored paper, plastics, rubber and trash, all of which release harmful chemicals.

It's also important to keep your wood stove or fireplace in good working order so that it draws efficiently. Regular chimney cleaning can not only help keep smoke out of your living area, but is also vital to prevent dangerous buildup of creosote. If accumulated creosote ignites, it may cause a "chimney fire" that can spread to the house itself.

Another environmentally friendly way to enjoy a fire is to burn wood pellets made from sawdust and other lumber byproducts that would have otherwise ended up in landfills. Pellets release fewer toxins when burned, but you need a pellet stove or special fireplace insert to use them.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here