Concerned about air safety in the yard

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New Member
Nov 21, 2005
Hi. I've just been reading some of the scary stuff about the potential harm of wood smoke. We've got a Vermont Castings Defiant that has a catalytic combustor, so I know that helps. We live on high ground, not in a valley, which is good. I'm wondering if there's any rule of thumb, like if you come in from outside smelling of smoke you've just been breathing too much of it, or anything like that. Also, just last year I fenced in an acre in back of the house for the cats so they wouldn't get run over on the road and now I wonder if I'm giving them lung cancer being trapped next to the house when they go out. I'm hoping the scary articles I found on the net were intended for folks in areas at higher risk for pollution and I'm outside the city in KY. I hope somebody can tell me things are OK here. Thanks. L.


Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
South Puget Sound, WA
You have a very clean burning woodstove. Keep it well maintained and the catalyst in good shape. With proper use and following the manufacturer's recommended directions for proper burning you will be fine.


I was going to post this separately, but you know the heating season has begun, is when we get the first smoke complaint.
More often that not its two neighbors feuding. The only thing I can do, is to look at the records to see if the wood stove in question,
was legally permitted and installed. Fortunately this one had, so there is nothing I can do. This is a board of health issue.
I hate fielding anonymous calls. What I do is request that the caller come into the office and file a written complaint and officially
enter it into the record. This is the point where 90% of the calls end. I tell the caller in this democratic society the accused party has the right to face the accuser. Most do not want to be on record and want to remain anonymous, particularly in neighbor a pissing war

I answer the lady’s concerns: By the tine one smells smoke from the wood stove, it has been greatly diluted by outside air. This lessens a most harmful exposure . As for the cats they are in greater danger from fox and coyotes, than smoke pollution .


Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
Llyssia said:
I'm hoping the scary articles I found on the net were intended for folks in areas at higher risk for pollution and I'm outside the city in KY. I hope somebody can tell me things are OK here. Thanks. L.


You may have to take some articles on the net with a grain of salt. I noticed a web site a couple of weeks ago that listed many toxic sounding chemicals and compounds that are contained in wood smoke. Even though my background is in chemistry, the list sounded pretty ominous. But then you consider how good all those chemicals taste if the smoke happened to be from hickory or oak wood and it happened to land on some juicy marinated chicken or a nice cut of beef.

With the proper manipulation, anything can be dangerous. There is a neat page on the net about the dangers of "dihydrogen monoxide"... that tells of the dangers of this terrible chemical....kills thousands every year, many companies dump it directly into drinking water supplies, a very small quantity administered in the right way can kill you....on and on (everything very true, I might add). Sounds pretty scary until you consider that "dihydrogen monoxide" is a technical description of plain old H20 - water.

My take is that unless you live in a smoke cloud all day long, or have medical conditions that may be agrivated by the smoke (asthma, emphysema, etc) some incidental contact will probably be pretty low on the list of health worries.

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