Air Quality Information
If You Burn Wood, Burn Wood Wisely
Research confirms that dry wood is cleaner and safer to burn than wet wood. Burning wet wood is less efficient and produces excessive smoke. This leads to many kinds of health problems, including asthma and heart conditions. It also leads to buildup of creosote in the chimney, which can result in a chimney fire.
To prepare wood to use in your wood burning device:
Science Understanding PM2.5 and PM10
Particulate matter (PM) is the term for solid or liquid particles found in the air. Some particles are large or dark enough to be seen as soot or smoke. Others are so small they can be detected only with an electron microscope. Because particles originate from a variety of mobile and stationary sources (diesel trucks, woodstoves, power plants, etc.), their chemical and physical compositions vary widely.
Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) is less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. PM2.5 is a product of combustion, primarily caused by burning fuels. Examples of PM2.5 sources include power plants, vehicles, wood burning stoves, and wildland fires.
Coarse Particulate Matter (PM10) is less than 10 micrometers in diameter. It primarily comes from road dust, agriculture dust, river beds, construction sites, mining operations and similar activities. Most people in Alaska experience PM10 as dust.
Potential Health Risks
Who is Most at Risk?
People with heart or lung disease:
- Conditions make them vulnerable
- Greater prevalence of heart and lung disease
- More likely to be active
- Breathe more air per pound
- Bodies still developing
Particle pollution contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems. A number of scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems.
Health Consequences of Exposure
Exposure to fine particles is linked to:
- Increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing, or difficulty breathing
- Aggravated asthma
- Development of chronic bronchitis
- Irregular heartbeat
- Non-fatal heart attacks
- Aggravation of heart and lung diseases
- Premature death in people with heart or lung disease
- Possibly linked to lung cancer deaths, infant mortality and development al problems such as low birth weight in children.
How Do Fine Particles Interact with the Body?
- Small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems because the nose and throat filter larger particles penetrating deep into lungs.
- Particles can accumulate, react, absorb, or be cleared by the lungs
- Particles can enter the bloodstream
For more information about air quality in the Mat-Su call 907-352-DUST (3878).