Photo: Even though woodsmoke is natural, it is not benign.

Wood Smoke and Health

It’s hard to believe that something as natural as wood smoke could be harmful. However, many things that are natural cause harm. For example, asbestos is natural, and it was once thought to be a safe and helpful material that was widely used in our surroundings. But over time, the evidence became clear that breathing in asbestos fibers causes cancer.


Wood Smoke and Tobacco Smoke

Both wood and tobacco are natural plant materials, and when they are burned they emit a similar toxic brew of carcinogens and other harmful chemicals. When wood is burned, however, it releases a much larger volume of these toxins than cigarettes do, by orders of magnitude.

Wood smoke and tobacco smoke both come from burningplant material. Neither are good for health.Photo of a worker on a tobacco farm.Serious Illnesses and Premature Deaths

Wood smoke exposure is associated with the same variety of illnesses and diseases that are associated with smoking and secondhand smoke exposure, including ear infections, cataracts, lung infections, asthma, COPD, heart attacks, strokes and cancer.


The latest research also provides evidence that fine particulates, such as those in wood smoke, play a role in the development of behavioral and developmental disorders in children and in the progression of cognitive decline and dementia in the elderly.

There is also significant evidence that exposure to wood smoke pollution increases the risk of premature death from cardiovascular and pulmonary causes.


Wood smoke may be natural. But it’s not healthy.

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