Positive Pressure Fireplaces – Are They Filling Homes with Toxic Outdoor Pollution?
Because they blow outdoor air into your living space, positive pressure fireplaces may have the potential to significantly increase the health risks to you and your family when operated in areas where there are inversions and outdoor pollution. In Utah, that includes residents of Salt Lake City and anyone living along the Wasatch Front. Other ares of concern include Logan and St. George, as those cities have also been affected by increased pollution levels due to inversions and growth.
How Does a Positive Pressure Fireplace Work?
Positive pressure fireplaces operate in a manner similar to swamp coolers by blowing in outdoor air through a high speed fan system to positively pressurize your home. Imagine blowing air into a paper bag with small holes in it and you will get a miniature idea of how it works.
Instead of cooling the air like a swamp cooler, the outdoor air is pulled in and heated by the positive pressure fireplace and then blown directly into your living space. Some have confused the manner in which positive pressure fireplaces work with the way the standard furnace heats your home – they do not operate the same. Your furnace does not pull in outdoor air and then push it into your living space, instead it efficiently recirculates the existing air in your home through the cold air return and then out to the rest of the home through the heat registers.
What is the Danger?
The high potential for increased health risks exists when the positive pressure fireplace is operating normally and blowing outdoor air into your home on days and nights when the pollution levels are at a moderate or high level. Even with pollution at low levels, it is easy to see how the air quality could gradually worsen as your positive pressure fireplace continuously pumps in polluted air from the outside. The danger of blowing outdoor air into your home significantly increases during an inversion because toxic pollutants are trapped in the lower atmosphere and continue to increase in severity and density the longer the inversion lasts. Inversions can last for weeks.
When the local news is telling you not to go outside because of bad air quality – You may think twice about operating any appliance that could continuously blow toxic air into your home, especially if anyone in your family suffers from heart disease, lung disease, asthma, or shortness of breath.
As stated in the above article link by BreatheUtah.org, PM2.5 Pollution – the kind that is prevalent in Utah, especially during an inversion, is associated with leukemia, lymphoma, and central nervous system tumors, especially in children. PM2.5 pollution causes pre-maturity and low birth weight in infants.
If you, or someone you know, has a positive pressure fireplace, you may want to contact the EPA and your State and local heath department to further address your concerns and learn more about the potential health risks of operating your positive pressure fireplace in areas where there is any level of outdoor pollution.
As with any gas or wood appliance – please install carbon monoxide detectors in your home and read the instructions thoroughly on their operation and maintenance. Thousands of people are sent to the emergency room each year to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, too many of them die unnecessarily. Don’t let it be you or your family.
In order to understand the serious health hazards created by inversions and PM2.5 pollution, read the following article.
How Do I Know if I Have This Type of Fireplace in My Home?
Google“Positive Pressure Fireplaces” to see if you or someone you know may need to be concerned with the type of fireplace they have.
NOTE: This article’s intention is not to infer that positive pressure fireplaces are faulty or do not provide heat. Its intent is only to address the manner in which they bring outdoor air into your home. If that air consists of pollutants – common sense alone will tell you that you are significantly increasing your health risks by constantly forcing it into your home and breathing it.