SALT LAKE CITY – Burning a cleaner fire in that wood stove or fireplace over the holidays is helpful to the health of Utahns and also benefits the state’s climate, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Alison Davis, senior adviser in the office of Air Quality Planning and Standards at the Environmental Protection Agency, says a good way to burn the hottest and most efficient fire possible is to use only dry, seasoned wood.
“Dry wood burns more completely, and that benefits you in two ways,” says Davis. “You get more energy out of the firewood because it burns more of the actual wood itself and the fire then produces less smoke.”
Davis says you can easily tell if wood is dry by knocking two pieces together, which should produce a hollow sound. She adds, a moisture meter can determine wood’s moisture level, which should be at 20 percent moisture or less. Davis says smoke coming from the chimney is a key sign you’re not burning an efficient fire.
Davis adds wood smoke produces fine particle pollution, which can be harmful to human health.
“When you breathe in air that has fine particles in it, it can penetrate deep into the lungs where it can harm the heart, the blood vessels and the lungs,” she says. “Fine particles are linked to heart attacks and strokes.”
Davis says particle pollution from wood smoke can be a major cause of air pollution in cities such as Salt Lake, which have air-inversion problems during the winter months.