So it was with something akin to shock that I read that fireplaces are not considered by some to be eco-friendly. It seems odd, because aren't trees a renewable resource? If you're responsibly planting to replace what you take, how is that not environmentally friendly? But apparently the main issue is not with the wood being burned, but with the smoke being produced. According to the article "Cozy Winter Fires – Carbon Impact," the fine particles that wood-burning fires and stoves release into the air are estimated by the EPA to contribute "approximately 62% of aromatic hydrocarbon emissions – a very hazardous human produced carcinogen."
Eschewing wood-burning fires seems to some like "eco-overkill," and personally, I'm inclined to agree. However, that hasn't stopped numerous places out west from creating laws and regulations limiting or even banning traditional wood-burning fireplaces and stoves. To quote the New York Times,
"Idaho offers tax incentives to people who replace uncertified wood stoves with 'greener' ones; San Joaquin County in California forbids selling a home unless its wood stove is replaced with an E.P.A.-certified one; and Palo Alto and other municipalities in California prohibit wood-burning fireplaces or stoves in new construction."I've never lived in or even visited any of those places, so I can't say whether pollution caused by wood-burning is noticeably different in them. I can say that my parents have gas fireplaces, the kind that produce an actual flame, and they feel incredibly authentic. I'd be likely to install a gas fireplace or stove over a wood-burning for the simple reason that they are far less labor-intensive, and I am a lazy, lazy lout.
What do you think? Is this "eco-overkill" or something we should take note of?