All wood burning emits health-damaging particulates and toxins, even when it is done in a modern, certified device. In fact, some modern certified wood stoves emit even higher levels of some carcinogens, such as dioxins and the PAH benzo(a)pyrene, than older stoves.
The wood-burning appliance industry works very hard to convince everyone that buying new wood stoves or simply burning the “right” kind of wood will solve our wood smoke pollution problems. But that’s a lot like promoting filtered cigarettes as a healthier way to smoke. No amount of wood smoke is healthy to breathe, just as no amount of tobacco smoke is healthy.
Backyard fire pits, fireplaces, chimeneas and meat smokers are also becoming increasingly popular. These devices emit large amounts of hazardous smoke low to the ground and can cause serious harm to those living in nearby homes.