To be fair, the critics do have a point, although their extremism can be off-putting. However, wood smoke with its harmful constituents manages to depress the activity of the immune system in the first place in order to cause all sorts of damage to the human body. A 2013 study in the journal Particle and Fibre Toxicology found exposure to wood smoke causes the arteries to become stiffer, which raises the risk of dangerous cardiac events. Because woodsmoke presents such a high health risk, legislation is needed to regulate the use of open-air fires and wood-burning stoves. It is to be kept in mind at all times that consistent inhalation in wood smoke severely damages the layer of cells that is present in lungs and plays a vital role in cleansing and protecting the airways. Wood smoke contains dangerous toxins that cause changes in human cells. Another study similarly found that particulate matter from wood smoke “generates more DNA damage than traffic-generated (particulate matter) per unit mass in human cell lines, possibly due to the high level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons ” in wood smoke. There are places, mainly communities in sheltered mountain valleys, where, when the locals fire up their stoves and fireplaces during a cold snap, the smoke gets so thick you can't see across the street. As wood burning increases during these cold periods, the pollutants in the smoke are trapped near the ground. Even if you think the chemicals are safe, the smoke produced will impart a negative, unpalatable flavor to the food. Additional Wood Toxicity Data. At all. Particles less than 10 micrometers in size can become deposited into the lungs causing shortness of breath and asthma attacks. Same reasons as chemically treated wood. Wood smoke is more of a problem in the winter when cold, stagnant air prevents it from rising and dispersing. Green Wood. And some paints from older lumber may be lead-based. Poisondex, Micromedix Inc. 1990. In communities where wood heating is common, wood smoke can be responsible for as much as 25% of the airborne particulate matter, 8% of the VOCs, and 7% of the CO in the air. For pregnant women, a 2019 study in Environmental Research connected wood smoke exposure to a higher risk of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, which include preeclampsia and gestational high blood pressure. Lame, K., McAnn, M., AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants, AMA 1985 5. Wood smoke is the problem, no doubt about it, and is by far the most compelling argument against wood heating. If you don’t know positively that the chemicals used are NOT poisonous or toxic, don’t use it. 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