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Burn, baby, burn--but efficiently.

Across the country this winter, families and friends will gather around fires in woodstoves or fireplaces, but how you build that fire--and what you burn--can have a significant impact on air quality and health, both inside your home and out, maintains the Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

Whether using a woodstove, pellet stove, or your fireplace, seeing smoke from your chimney means your fire is not burning as efficiently or cleanly as it could. Woodsmoke contains fine particles--also called fine particle pollution or PM2.5--which can harm the lungs, blood vessels, and heart, according to the EPA. People with heart, vascular or lung disease, as well as older adults and children, are more at risk.

Here are some EPA tips for building cleaner-burning fires:

* Burn only dry, seasoned wood. Wet or green logs create excessive smoke-and waste fuel. How do you tell if wood has been seasoned? Listen for a hollow sound when you strike two logs together.

* Wood burns best when the moisture content is less than 20%. A wood moisture meter costs as little as $20 at most home improvement retailers.

* Start a small fire with dry kindling, then add a few pieces of wood. Be sure there is space between the pieces of wood-and give the fire plenty of air until it is roaring.

* A smoldering fire, "dirty" glass doors on a wood stove, or smoke from the chimney all are signs that your fire needs more air--or the wood is too moist.

* Never burn household garbage, cardboard, painted or treated wood, or any wood that contains glue, such as plywood or particle board. These items release toxic chemicals when burned--and, if you are using a woodstove, they can damage it.

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Title Annotation:YOUR LIFE
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2015
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