Wood Smoke versus Cigarette Smoke

Wood Smoke vs. Cigarette Smoke

People who would never dream of smoking a cigarette choose to burn wood. Yet wood smoke contains many of the same toxic and carcinogenic substances as cigarette smoke, including benzene, benzo(a)pyrene, and dibenz(a,h)anthracene.

And wood smoke produces far more particulate pollution than cigarette smoke does.

EPA researchers estimate the lifetime cancer risk from wood smoke to be 12 times greater than from a similar amount of cigarette smoke.

In a laboratory study at Louisiana State University, researchers found that hazardous free radicals in wood smoke are chemically active 40 times longer than those from cigarette smoke—so once inhaled, they will harm the body for far longer.

Other EPA estimates suggest that a single fireplace operating for an hour and burning 10 pounds of wood will generate 4,300 times more carcinogenic polyaromatic hydrocarbons than 30 cigarettes.