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Fireplaces and Asthma

I have what is called atypical asthma meaning that I don’t normally have symptoms unless I get a really bad cold in my chest. Because of this, I don’t use an asthma inhaler every day. I’ve been known to go years without having to use one.

Earlier this year I had asthmatic bronchitis which led me to the emergency room and to my doctor for ongoing appointments.

I have been doing fairly well until we started using our wood fireplace. There are two important things that I’ve learned.

  1. Make sure that the wood in the fireplace is no longer burning when you turn off the knob to let air out through the chimney flue
  2. Make sure you burn wood that has been seasoned, ie it is totally dry, as it burns more efficiently and doesn’t let out as much smoke. This can take 6 months to a year.
  3. Keep the doors to your fireplace closed. It may be warmer if you keep them open (and more dangerous) but more particles are let out into the air if you don’t close them.

We made the mistake last night of going to bed and turning the knob off to the flue even though the fire had not burned out completely. This morning, the whole house smells of smoke.

Since we only have one car, my intentions were to stay home and do “house” things today. But I grew concerned when my husband came over and told me that the house smelled and asked if I wanted to keep the car so I could get away. I told him no. Once out of bed though I could smell the smoke in the house. Our house is tightly insulated and we have 30-35% humidity. Smoke and low humidity are not good things for an asthma sufferer.

Before my husband left for work I asked him to turn on our air cleaner/ionizer which is in the family room. These work great but our house is too large for the one we have (a small Sears model that I would use in small spaces before moving here).

I brought the humidifier from our bedroom to the family room but it also is too small for the space we have.

Today, I’m wearing a cleaning/dust mask. It’s a mask you wear so that you don’t inhale pollutants while you’re cleaning. After I put that on, I started the humidifier. Then I opened windows. It’s 20 degrees outside and I am airing out our house. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

Then I started vacuuming. Why vacuum? I learned that the ionizer removes the particles from the air but a lot of times they drop to the ground or get on the walls. So when you walk across the room, you could be carrying those same particles throughout the house. (I’m getting to be quite wise in Minnesota …)

I don’t know how long it will take to air out the house. Hopefully it won’t take all day as I look rather ridiculous with my  mask on. But safety comes first as my chest does feel a little tight.

The asthma inhaler is always close by.

3M 8000 Particle Respirator N95, 30-Pack
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