The leader of Connecticut based Environment and Human Health, Inc., recently reached out referencing a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warning about potential health hazards related to these popular patio and backyard fixtures.
According to the EPA, wood smoke is a complex mixture of gases and microscopic particles, and when these microscopic particles get into your eyes and respiratory system, they can cause health problems such as burning, runny nose, and bronchitis.
As part of its “Burn Wise” program, the EPA warns that people who have heart or lung disease, such as congestive heart failure, angina, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema or asthma, should especially limit their exposures to wood smoke.
The agency suggests if anyone is concerned about smoke emitting from a neighbor’s fire pit, they should consider speaking to their neighbor about the matter. And if the smoke remains an issue, contact the local health department to determine further action.
However, there may not be much a local or even a state health or environmental agency can do, unless those devices are covered under a new EPA ruling.
That rule does not affect existing wood stoves and other wood-burning heaters currently in use in people’s homes; it does not apply to new or existing heaters that are fueled solely by oil, gas or coal; and it would not apply to outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, pizza ovens or chimineas.
In addition, EPA did not include new indoor fireplaces for regulation, based on the agency’s review of data indicating that typical fireplaces are not effective heaters.
Learn more about the EPA’s Burn Wise program at epa.gov/burnwise.