(319) 892-6000

Linn County Public Health

501 13th St NW

Cedar Rapids IA United States 52405

319-892-6000

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What is Wood Smoke?

Smoke forms when wood or other organic matter burns. The smoke from wood burning is made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles (also called particle pollution, particulate matter, or PM). These microscopic particles can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where they can cause health problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, exacerbate asthma and COPD and cause illnesses such as bronchitis. In addition to particle pollution, wood smoke contains several toxic harmful air pollutants including: benzene, formaldhyde, acrolein and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Who is at risk from wood smoke?

Wood smoke can affect everyone, but children, teenagers, older adults, people with lung disease, including asthma and COPD or people with heart diseases are the most vulnerable. Limit exposure to wood smoke, especially if more susceptible to effects of wood smoke. 

How Wood Smoke Harms Your Health

Washington State Department of Ecology - "Some people like the smell of wood smoke. It reminds them of
crisp fall days and winter evenings beside a cozy fire. Most
people don’t realize this smell is a danger sign that means their
health is being affected as if they were breathing cigarette
smoke. Wood smoke is especially harmful to children, the
elderly, and people with lung and heart disease." 

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Health Impacts from Burning Wood