Wood Burning and You
Health Effects of Wood smoke
Burning wood in a fireplace, chiminea, or fire pit provides a warm cozy gathering place for families and friends during the holiday season. It also provides the perfect conditions for increased air pollution that can harm the ones you love. Maricopa County has higher levels of air pollution caused by wood burning smoke, especially during the winter months, causing the County to be at risk of not meeting federal health standards. If Maricopa County is unable to meet these health standards, the community may be subject to burdensome and costly federal regulations and stricter rules that could also mean higher fines.
Maricopa County Air Quality Department is asking Maricopa County residents and businesses to ‘Burn Cleaner, Burn Better.’ Instead of burning wood, you can Burn Cleaner, Burn Better and eliminate all particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5 or smoke) emissions by converting your wood burning fireplace to natural gas. Other cleaner options include fireplace retrofit, certified wood stoves, pellet stoves, and/or electric fireplaces.
Certain outdoor fires are prohibited in parts of Maricopa County from May 1 through September 30, including fires used to clear land, fires for recreational use, and branding of animals. Other types of fires are allowed unless a restricted burn period has been declared.
Help protect the health of our residents, don’t burn wood when it is a No Burn Day. To learn the latest air quality forecast and No Burn Day status, you can download the Clean Air Mobile App, sign up for email or text alerts, visit Maricopa.gov/AQ each day, or call 602-506-6400.
Both short- and long-term exposures to particle pollution from wood smoke has been linked to a variety of health effects.
Short-term exposures to particles can aggravate lung disease, causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis and may also increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. Long-term exposures (months or years) have been associated with problems such as reduced lung function and the development of chronic bronchitis and even premature death. Some studies also suggest that long-term PM2.5 exposures may be linked to cancer and to harmful developmental and reproductive effects, such as infant mortality and low birth weight.
Understanding the alternatives
Gas fireplaces (which include gas inserts, gas log sets, and self-contained vent-free units that don't require chimneys) are designed to burn either natural gas or propane. Maintenance is minimal compared to all the work associated with wood-burning fires. Gas fireplaces produce less air pollution than wood and are good for area heating.
Fireplace Retrofit Devices
EPA-Certified Wood Stoves