What you Burn Matters: Minimize the Risk

Friday, January 24, 2014 - 12:25pm

During the winter, many New Mexicans use their wood-burning stoves to stay warm.

Residential wood smoke is the main source of fine particle pollution causing poor air quality inside the home.

Burning the right wood, the right way, in the right wood-burning appliance can reduce harmful air pollution.

When you use your wood stove, the New Mexico Department of Health recommends that you burn dry, seasoned wood to reduce particle pollution. Wet wood is a problem for your health and your pocketbook.

It creates a lot of smoke and burns inefficiently, meaning the heat literally goes up in smoke.

Buy an inexpensive moisture meter at a hardware store to test the wetness of your wood before burning.

Wood should only be used if the moisture content is 20 percent or less.

The New Mexico Department of Health recommends:

• Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood to reduce particle pollution.

• Never burn household garbage, cardboard, plastics, foam, colored ink on paper/boxes/wrappers, coated/painted/pressure-treated wood, plywood, particle board, any wood with glue on it, or driftwood as they all release toxic chemicals when burned.

• Keep the doors of your wood-burning appliance closed unless loading or stoking the live fire. Harmful chemicals, like carbon monoxide, can be released into your home.

• Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

• Know about safe wood-burning practices if you have underlying heart or lung disease.

Get more “burn wisely” tips from the New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking program: https://nmtracking.org/fire.


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