You Could End Up With Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
One of the biggest dangers of fireplaces is also one of the hardest to detect:;carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is the odorless, colorless toxic byproduct of burning fuel, says Ian Tong, MD, chief medical officer for Doctors on Demand. It competes for space in red blood cells with oxygen. So even a small amount can impact your bodys ability to carry oxygen to the cells. Exposure to this gas can literally poison or suffocate you without warning, but it can also cause numerous symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and nausea. To minimize the risk, install carbon monoxide detectors and sit away from the fireplace.
Health Effects Of Wood Smoke
Most healthy people recover quickly from exposure to wood smoke and do not suffer long-term effects. It is not known how low the level of fine particle pollution must be for it not to affect health.The degree of health effects that someone may experience depends on how much smoke the person is exposed to and for how long. Symptoms of smoke irritation include itchy eyes, runny nose, a sore throat and coughing.In addition to health effects, wood smoke can also cause smoke haze and odour nuisance.People most susceptible to wood smoke include:
- people suffering from existing cardiac or respiratory conditions, such as asthma
- people with vascular conditions such as high blood pressure and those with complications from diabetes
- smokers, as wood smoke increases the risk of reduced lung function
- infants and very young children
- frail older people.
How To Manage Indoor
First of all, lets call it what it really is. The industry likes the term vent-free when talking about gas fireplaces that keep all the exhaust gases in your home. I prefer the term ventless or, even better, unvented. Some people suggest room-vented or lung-vented.
Not a huge deal, but the ventless gas industry wants you to feel that youre being liberated of a burden by not having an exhaust vent. I think its important for people to know that theyre actually missing something important when they go with a ventless gas appliance.
Second, unvented gas fireplaces are a liability. I wouldnt have one in my house and advise those who do have one either to remove it, replace it, or just not use it.
Yes, I know that some people love them and have never had a problem with theirs. Those people have commented in some of my previous articles criticizing these appliances. I also know, however, that plenty of people with unvented gas fireplaces complain of headaches and other problems.
Before we get into the fun stuff, let me address the question of how to determine if your gas fireplace is vented or not, just in case. The answer is quite simple. You put your head into the fireplace and look up. If theres a hole, its vented. In the photo below, all I saw was a steel plate with no hole.
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If You Have Respiratory Ailments You Need To Be Cautious
People with chronic respiratory conditions like COPDthese are the COPD symptoms you should never ignorecould be putting themselves at risk by regularly using a fireplace. If you have an existing respiratory condition, you should really pay close attention to air quality in your home, Dr. Tong says. He suggests using a humidifier or a HEPA air filter to help remove the particulates that can do the worst damage. Heres how HEPA filters and other tools can help;by reducing your exposure to allergens. Doctors have been particularly impressed with Molekule, an air purifier that uses nanotechnology to break down pollutants, including allergens, mold, bacteria, viruses, and airborne chemicals, on a molecular level.
Are Vent Free Fireplaces Dangerous
- Fearful woman
Vent free heating appliances may be one of the more novel hearth inventions. Installing them doesn’t require venting to pass through an outside wall or roof. But their novelty comes with a lot of questions. The first is usually, “How do they work?” But, even after learning that their near 100% combustion relieves the burden of venting. Another concern people have is, “Are they dangerous?”
This article will look into both the horror stories and the science to help you separate the facts from fiction as we explore the supposed dangers of vent free fireplaces and ventless fireplaces.
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Other Wood Smoke Pollutants
Other airborne pollutants from wood smoke include benzene, butadiene, formaldehyde and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons .Health effects from these pollutants range from eye irritation and headaches to more serious damage of the respiratory, nervous, reproductive, developmental and immune systems. Studies show that some of these pollutants are known to cause or are suspected of causing cancer.
Where To Get Help
- Environment Protection Authority Victoria Tel. 1300 372 842 for general information on wood heaters and air quality, what to do about neighbours with smoky wood heaters, correct operation and maintenance of wood heaters
- Your local council for advice and information on wood smoke pollution and for reporting complaints
- Environmental Health Unit, Department of Health Tel. 1300 761 874 for information on the health effects of air pollutants
- Your doctor
- Plumbing Industry Commission Tel. 1300 815 127 for advice about the correct installation of a wood heater
- Asthma Foundation of Victoria Tel. 1800 645 130
- VicEmergency Hotline 1800 226 226; for the latest information on total fire bans, fire restrictions and major fires
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How Seriously Should People Take This Information
I dont want to sound alarmist. This is a very happy and enjoyable season. The idea of having a warm, cozy fire that brings people together should be something that we all celebrate. But on the other hand, I want you to also be aware that this could pose hazards to those of us who happen to have pre-existing health conditions.
A Fireplace Dealer Who Refuses To Sell Unvented Fireplaces
Yesterday I got an email from Perry Bumpers. His company,;Fireplace Creations by BMC, sells gas fireplaces in Tennessee, and I linked to his website in my Bob Vila article. I didnt know him then and have never communicated with him until he wrote to me yesterday. I linked to his site because he refuses to sell unvented gas fireplaces and proclaims so publicly on his website.
He reached out to me to tell me that every year in the heating season, they get a lot of complaints from people who have ventless gas fireplaces in their homes. They want to find out if its really true that these appliances could be the cause of their health problems and what they can do about it. While he was writing to me, he said he had a man in his showroom whose wife sent him there to get the correct information about their vent-free logs they have in there home. She had told him go to BMC and get the facts, that she was not crazy, that the logs were making her head hurt and making her sick.
Bumpers wrote that theyve done about 40 estimates to replace ventless gas fireplaces with direct-vent models so far this season and have replaced about 10. The others would like to do it, he told me, but they dont have the money for it yet.
Its nice to see companies choose to do the right thing, as Vendituoli and Bumpers do, even if it means losing some business. As Bumpers wrote to me, We will never stop trying to make sure the consumer has the facts about ventfree products.
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You Could Increase Your Risk For Lung Cancer
A 2010 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that fireplace users did have an elevated risk of developing lung cancer. Dr. Tong also warns of the risk: Repeat exposure can permanently damage the lungs and increase the risk of cancer similar to smoking. These are the signs of lung cancer you could be ignoring.
The Risks From Sick Building Syndrome
If you’ve felt headachy and tired at work , you could be suffering from sick building syndrome. This term is used to describe symptoms that occur only at work that can’t be linked with any illness or other cause. For some people, the symptoms are sore throat, burning eyes, itchy nose.
These symptoms are a reaction to indoor air pollutants – and “usually are a problem of large buildings with ventilation problems,” Pacheco tells WebMD. “The classic case is a municipal building built in the 1970s that has been extensively renovated. When it was first built, it had adequate ventilation. But when they put up partitions, it changes the air flow.”
New carpeting, adhesives, upholstery, copy machines, pesticides, and cleaning fluids can give off formaldehyde and other noxious compounds. Without adequate ventilation, these fumes can cause a variety of allergic reactions.
These irritants are “a real annoyance but will not result in permanent harm to your health,” Pacheco says. “If you move in right after new carpeting has been installed, the smell will be irritating to eyes, noses, causing headaches, nausea. But it dissipates after a few weeks and shouldn’t bother you after that.”
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Surprising Allergy Facts For The Holidays
Some of our favorite winter things can also trigger reactions. Allergic Living gives the allergy facts on what to watch out for.
1. Scented Candles
The thought of cinnamon or vanilla wafting through the house may be appealing, but scented candles smell of big trouble for those with allergies or chemical sensitivities.
People who have environmental allergies such as to pollen or pets develop very sensitive inflamed nasal tissue which is hyper-reactive, explains allergist Dr. Antony Ham Pong. These tissues then react more strongly to scents, and act as if they are allergens and mimic an allergic reaction.
Plus, consider whether soy-allergic guests will be visiting before you light up that soy wax candle. While most are made from hydrogenated oil, which wont cause an inhalant reaction, your soy-allergic guest or her child may feel uncomfortable knowing that a soy product is wafting through the air.
Advice: Use unscented, beeswax candles or opt instead for trendy fairy light strings for table decor or wreaths.
2. Festive Spores
If you have environmental allergies, a pine or cedar dominating the living room can bring you to sneezes and tears . Allergists warn at this time of year about Rudolph the Reindeer Syndrome, literally a reaction to the Christmas tree.
Mold is the biggest issue some studies suggest household mold counts can increase as much as 10 times with a cut tree in the home. But an artificial tree can also harbor mold if it was stored in a damp basement.
Problems With Ventless Fireplaces And Lungs
Ventless gas fireplaces offer a number of advantages over traditional woodburning fireplaces and the more conventional vented gas models. Like regular gas fireplaces, they eliminate the need to clean up ashes and store fuel. They also avoid the need for home remodeling.
Ordinary gas fireplaces must be vented to the outside for safe operation. Ventless fireplaces are designed to produce less carbon monoxide, so they may be used without a vent. However, these devices can cause respiratory problems if they malfunction, or in the homes of people with existing respiratory problems.
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Health Precautions Of Outdoor Wood Smoke
To minimise possible health effects during times when outdoor wood smoke in your local area is a problem:
- Avoid outdoor physical activities.
- Stay indoors with windows and external doors closed this provides some protection and prevents smoke entering your home.
- If you suffer from heart or lung disease and you notice symptoms of smoke exposure, take your regular medications, rest and seek medical advice if symptoms persist.
Reduce Wood Smoke In Your Home
One way you can reduce your health risks with burning wood in your home is to use newer fireplace inserts. Those manufactured after 1992 are significantly cleaner-burning than older models because of federal air quality regulations that went into effect at that time, according to the;EPA.
If these newer appliances are properly installed, well-maintained and used correctly, they can reduce outdoor and indoor air pollution resulting from burning wood and consequently, help reduce risks to your health.
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Fireplace Prevention For Better Health
It is impossible to have a gas or electric fireplace cause allergies. For that reason, many prefer them because they are safer and cleaner especially for children or older adults that may already have health conditions.
For those with wood burning units, you should consider limiting exposure especially during the months where your allergies are notoriously the worst.
Even for those that do not suffer from nasty allergies, wood burning fireplaces are hard on people with asthma and can also contribute to bronchitis. Once again, limiting exposure should not lead to anything threatening, especially if the fireplace is in strong working order.
Additional steps you can take to protect your health, and your familys health according to the EPA include:
- Burn dry wood that has been split, covered, and stored for at least six months. Some wood can develop rot, which when burned releases harmful particles.
- Outfit your fireplace with a tight-fitting door as opposed to a screen. It will block out far more of the smoke and small particles.
- Take extra measures to makes sure the room that houses the fireplace is well-ventilated.
- Make sure your fireplace and chimney is inspected and cleaned every year by a certified professional. It is not only important to your health but also the law.
The No 1 Culprit: Cigarette Smoke
Nearly 5,000 toxins make tobacco smoke the most toxic indoor pollutant. The greatest percentage of lung cancers is caused by cigarette smoke. Even secondhand smoke raises your risk of cancer, heart attack, and stroke.
“Children whose parents smoke have higher rates of asthma,” Pacheco tells WebMD. In fact, smoking causes pneumonia, bronchitis, wheezing, coughing, excess phlegm, and ear infections in young children. In the past 15 years, the number of children with asthma has more than doubled – largely due to tobacco smoke exposure in the home.
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How Much Exposure Is Dangerous
If you happen to be completely healthy and you dont have any predisposing conditions, having a wood-burning fire overnight or even for a few hours is not going to pose any excessive health hazards. On the other hand, if you have a predisposing condition, for instance asthma, COPD or an underlying cardiovascular condition that makes you vulnerable, prolonged exposure might not be such a good idea. A few hours on occasion might be okay, but continued daily exposure might pose significant health hazards.
Dare You Consider Trading That ‘coveted’ Design Feature For Something You’ll Actually Use This Logic Can Help
Laura GaskillmaybeDesign ManifestFireplacesspeak with a real estate agent in your area1. It doesnt work.Garret Cord Werner Architects & Interior Designers2. You dont use it. Chimney cleaners are a must for keeping a fireplace safeEmerick Architects3. Youre not allowed to use it. a proper mantelJeanette Karlsen4. Someone in the house has asthma or allergies. Bravehart Interiors5. You need more storage.The Spotted Frog Designs6. You want more windows.7. Youd rather have the wall space. andCathy Schwabe Architecture8. You want more warmth.investing in a quality woodstoveTell us:
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Replace Batteries And Test Monitors
If your gas fireplace has a remote or receiver, you will want to change the batteries now, so that you know they will last all winter. You also need to change the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to make sure that you are not allowing any harmful chemicals into your home through the fireplace.
If you have a gas fireplace that you need serviced before winter, we can help. Contact us today for more information.
But They’re Usually Food Sensitivities Or Intolerances
It’s possible that you’ll have venting problem because. A flueless gas fire could be a solution for people looking to add this kind of feature to their home. But they have a few ideas. Nothing compares to the soft warmth of a wood fireplace. Foods that cause allergies or intolerances. The popularity of gas fireplaces continues to increase, and it’s not surprising why. The virus will effectively outsmart the highly specific. Modern fireplaces can also be controlled remotely and start instantaneously, so homeowners who want to be able to manage their homes and enjoy fires in a short time love them. Manufacturers of these dangerous fireplaces oftentimes do not warn or instruct consumers of the extreme danger in touching the fireplace doors even for an instant. Gas fireplaces are generally very safe, as the other comments have said. Ventless gas fireplaces generally cost less to install than vented versions, but not everyone agrees on their safety. Since they do not require a flue, chimney, or external venting ducts, they are. A fireplace or hearth is a structure made of brick, stone or metal designed to contain a fire.
Foods that cause allergies or intolerances. This involves being exposed to the allergen in a controlled way over a number of years so your body gets used to it. Where can i put my fireplace? Scientists aren’t exactly sure what causes one person to suffer from allergies and another to sail through life with clear sinuses. What is a flueless gas fire?
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