TUCSON - It's a beautiful scene on a cold winter day. A fireplace burning away, warming a home.
But it's what's coming out of the blazing hearth that has health experts concerned.
Pollutants spewing from a chimney can be annoying and lead to worsening respiratory problems for neighbors.
"Every year I receive calls from community members who cannot walk in their neighborhood due to the effects of wood smoke on their health," said Beth Gorman, coordinator of air quality programs for the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality.
Symptoms of ill effects from wood smoke are eye, nose and throat irritation, headache, nausea, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath and dizziness, health officials say.
Wood smoke can also aggravate asthma and other respiratory diseases, Gorman said.
The smoke from wood contains hundreds of chemical compounds, including some that can cause health problems for children, pregnant women and those with respiratory impairments, she said.
Health officials say you should never burn painted or treated wood because toxic pollutants may be released.
Never burn plastics, charcoal or colored paper, including Christmas wrapping in a fireplace, because they too release toxins.