Smoke is made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine, microscopic particles produced when wood and other organic matter burn. The biggest health threat from wood smoke comes from fine particles (also called particulate matter). They are small enough to enter the lungs where they can cause bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, or other serious respiratory diseases. Fine particles can also aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases, and are linked to premature deaths in people with these chronic conditions.
Many old, pot-bellied wood stoves are still functioning to provide warmth and a cooking fire in tribal communities; but they may also be releasing wood smoke that is harmful to the health of everyone exposed to it, especially the young and the old. To avoid these inevitable health risks — and gain the greater efficiency and effectiveness of new, cleaner burning technology wood stoves — it is recommended that old stoves be gradually replaced or “changed out.”
Changing out wood stoves requires a financial investment; however, there are programs that provide financial assistance and manufacturers that provide discounts. The results of replacement speak for themselves with improvements in the health of children and community, home safety, visibility, and indoor air quality.
EPA certified wood stoves burn more efficiently and cleanly.
- Visit EPA’s Burn Wise Website for more information.
- The Changeout Campaign page provides information for programs, details on costs and access to funding, and links to current changeout programs around the country.
- EPA's Cookstove program is devoted to home cooking and heating practices and design principles for wood burning stoves.
- EPA’s Wood Burning Efficiency and Safety Website offers guidance on effective installation (which improves the overall safety) of the wood stove.
- EPA’s Burn Wise Website
- Basic Information Cleaner Burning Wood Stoves & Fireplaces - What you need to know to select a cleaner burning hearth product for your home, including retailers and installers in your area.
- Healthier Home, Cleaner Environment - Learn the impacts of wood smoke on your health and the environment, as well as the quality of the air where you live.
- Partners and Useful Links - Links to non-EPA partners assisting with the wood stove changeout campaigns, and other information related to wood stoves and air quality.
- For Air Quality Program Officials - Information to help tribal, state, and local air quality officials address wood burning emissions in their air quality planning.
- How-To Guide for Implementing a Wood Stove Changeout Campaign - A step-by-step guide and reference designed for air quality program officials to use in putting together a wood stove changeout campaign.