A fireplace can be many things. Of course, people use it to heat their homes. Plus, everyone loves to roast hot dogs or marshmallows over a fireplace flame, right? It can also be a centerpiece of beauty and comfort on a cold winter night. People are drawn by the cheery warmth of a crackling fire. However, hidden within this cozy scene are some health hazards that we don’t often consider.

Carbon Monoxide

When we think of things that can go wrong with our fireplace and chimney system, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the danger of a chimney fire. But what we don’t think about as often is the silent danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, this is not a danger that should be ignored. “Over 200 people across the nation are known to die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by problems in the venting – out of their homes – of toxic gases produced by their heating systems.” Other agencies put that number even higher. Even into the thousands! Infants and the elderly are at a higher risk of death from carbon monoxide poisoning, as are those who have heart disease or anemia.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause other serious symptoms to occur as well. Headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea; often these symptoms are ignored because they resemble having the flu. Ignoring these signs of carbon monoxide poisoning can cause permanent damage to the brain, heart, and other organs before the real culprit is diagnosed.

Health Effects of Smoke Inhalation

Sometimes a fire can be smokier than other times. One reason for this is the quality of wood that you burn. Wetter wood burns smokier than dryer wood; this is why it is so important for the wood you burn to be cured for the proper length of time. This is at least 6 months, but a year is even better. When a fire burns smoky, some of the side effects are obvious: burning eyes, runny nose, coughing.

What causes these reactions are the small particles that are carried in the smoke. Although these effects are annoying, more serious illnesses can develop if this happens more often. According to the Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials website, numerous scientific studies show that when very fine particles are released. They can get into your lungs or even into your bloodstream, and can cause asthma attacks, bronchitis, and aggravate some pre-existing heart and lung conditions. Wood smoke can also contain several toxic substances, such as methane, formaldehyde, and benzene.


Burning the proper wood is one easy step to preventing these health conditions. Even more important in prevention of these health concerns is this one simple step: make sure that you keep your chimney in top running condition by hiring the professionals at the Chimney Doctors of Colorado! They will come in and do a thorough inspection and cleaning of your fireplace and chimney on an annual basis, or more often if you use your fireplace very frequently. They will offer top-notch advice and cleaning services. Your health and your families’ health is too important to trust to anyone less than the best – the Chimney Doctors of Colorado.