Release 03-01      

January 23, 2003


Jerry Martin
(916) 322-2990

Richard Varenchik
(626) 575-6730
ARB Issues Woodburning Health Advisory

-- The Air Resources Board (ARB) encourages Californians to consider alternatives to woodburning this winter, and to use their woodburning fireplaces and stoves wisely if they use them. Woodsmoke can harm the health of your family and your neighbors, especially children, the elderly and asthmatics. Woodstoves and fireplaces release far more pollution, indoors and out, than heaters and fireplaces using natural gas.

"In many areas of California, wood smoke significantly degrades air quality and visibility, and can be the biggest single source of pollution, especially on still winter days. In order to reduce air pollution, we encourage people to consider the many alternatives to heating their home with wood," said ARB Chairman, Alan Lloyd.

Burning wood produces air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. These pollutants are hazardous to the respiratory system. They can trigger asthma in sensitive individuals, and may cause chronic lung disease. Particulate matter can be especially dangerous since, when inhaled, it can penetrate deep into the lungs where it may remain for years. Wood smoke also contains substances such as benzene, formaldehyde and benzo-a-pyrene, which can contribute to the development of cancer and irritate the eyes and throat.

In its 1988 suggested control measure, the ARB recommends that if you must use your fireplace you switch to gas or install an insert for a cleaner, cheaper heat source. In addition, the ARB encourages you to take these steps to reduce wood smoke pollution:

These and other suggestions are described in ARB's Woodburning Handbook, at /cap/handbooks/handbooks.htm or call (916) 327-7111.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARBís mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

The energy challenge facing California is real. Every Californian needs to take immediate action to reduce energy consumption. For a list of simple ways you can reduce demand and cut your energy cost, see our website at