Health leaders warn people about risk of wood burning in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY --  People are using wood burning stoves to stay warm this winter. While it may be a necessity for some, health leaders want you to be aware of the health and environmental risks wood smoke creates.

A toasty fire is inviting on a cold winter day, but health leaders are warning people that wood smoke is bad for your health.

“These are typically small particles, soot and dust, that get emitted into the air, and when you breathe them in it gets lodged in your lungs,” said Donna Kemp Spangler with the Department of Environmental Quality.

Doctors say particles from wood smoke can trigger asthma attacks and heart problems. They also contain cancer causing chemicals. Wood smoke adds to the pollution we see during the winter when we have inversions.

“Every time that you burn wood, it's going to have an impact on the air quality, and if people are outside they actually experience poor health aspects of it,” Spangler said.

The Department of Environmental Quality encourages people to do their part and know when it’s OK to burn solid fuels, such as wood, coal or pellets. People can find that info online, here.

It’s important to note that in Salt Lake County, restrictions have been in place since November 1. That means you are no longer allowed to burn solid fuels on voluntary action days.

“There are exceptions for those who use wood burning stoves, fireplace as their sole source of heat. They are exempt from these type of restrictions if they register with us,” Spangler said.

You could be fined $299 per day for breaking the rule. Although, Salt Lake County leaders say right now, they’re just trying to get the word out rather than stick you with a fine.

5 comments

  • ANOTHERBOB

    Yeah, smoking is bad for your health. But on the bright side look how much revenue the state generates from the sale of cigarettes.

  • Airquality Australia

    Thanks for the info. I hope everyone heeds it and, whenever possible, switches to non-polluting heating. Woodsmoke is bad for our health. Even if there is no inversion, it pollutes all the people living downwind until it’s eventually blown out of the area where people live. Using clean, affordable heating is a great way to care for the environment.

  • Thunder

    Wood is what I can afford and it is better than freezing all winter. Since no one else is going to pay my heating bill, don’t tell me how to keep warm.

  • Robyn

    Burning wood only harms your neighbors, while you keep warm. Sounds like a win to me.
    – signed, selfish US citizens

  • Finny Wiggen

    Oh brother! Utah very slowly slides into the nanny state that the rest of the world rolls around in each day.

    There are so many nanny state stories / “advice”, and it gets worse every year.

    “Lock your car at the mall, you will get robbed!” West Valley Police actually leave notes on customers cars at Valley Fair Mall if they leave their doors unlocked!!

    “Don’t burn wood, it is bad for you.”
    “Don’t post pictures of your vacation on social media.”
    “Don’t leave your packages on the porch.”
    “Don’t start your car in the morning so that it will warm up before you get into it. Someone might steal it.”

    Guess what! I am an adult. If I want to leave my car door unlocked I will! Heck, if want to put a big sign above my running car that says “I am in the house, and will not be back for a minimum of 15 minutes, so now would be a good time to steal my car!” then I am perfectly entitled to do so.

    As far as wood burning goes, GIVE ME A BREAK!
    The effects of wood burning on your health are minuscule at best. I doubt there is even a statistical connection between poor health and wood burning, other than with someone who already has other health concerns such as asthma.

    Even if there were, which there isn’t, but even if there were, I am allowed to do what I want. If I want to eat soot I can.

    Utah needs to grow up, and stop sludging through the muck of socialism disguised as good advice.

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