If you are using firewood to heat your home, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is reminding residents to burn only dry seasoned wood.
“Many Connecticut residents burn wood to heat their homes, but it also creates air pollution,” DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee said in a release Wednesday.
“Burning wood efficiently saves money and will let you and your neighbors breathe a little easier. On windy days, wood smoke pollution from your wood burning device can also negatively impact your neighbors without your knowledge so please be a good neighbor and be Air Aware,” he said.
The wood should be seasoned and has been split and dried for at least six months, and avoid allowing fires to smolder.
DEEP says wood burning in fireplaces and woodstoves is the largest source of particle pollution generated by residential sources during the winter.
The cold and still winter weather conditions can cause wood smoke pollution to become trapped close to the ground and build up to unhealthy air quality levels, making it difficult for those with respiratory conditions to breathe.
Wood smoke affects everyone, but children, teenagers, older adults, people with lung disease, including asthma and COPD and/or people with heart diseases are the most vulnerable.
“The smoke from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces contain tiny particles that can linger in the air and are so small that the bodies’ natural defenses cannot filter them out. Breathing these small particles can cause asthma attacks and severe bronchitis, aggravate heart and lung disease, and may increase the likelihood of respiratory illnesses,” DEEP said in the release.
“Some studies also suggest that long-term exposure to particle pollution can be linked to cancer, and harmful developmental and reproductive effects such as infant mortality and low birth weights.”
Residents should check that their wood stoves and fireplaces are EPA-certified and be aware that burning wet wood is an inefficient means of heating your home because most of the energy goes towards drying the wood, not heating your home.
Quality, well-seasoned firewood will also help your wood stove or fireplace burn cleaner and more efficiently, while green or wet wood can cause smoking problems, odor problems, rapid creosote buildup and possibly even dangerous chimney fires.
Visit DEEP’s Woodstove webpage to find additional tips for cleaner wood burning.