Residential Woodburning

Keep your family healthy and Albuquerque’s air clean by watching for “No-Burn” days. If you use a woodburning stove, fireplace, or other solid fuel heating device, check Today’s Status or call (505)768-BURN [(505)768-2876] before you burn

Enjoying a fire in your fireplace, wood stove, or chiminea can be a cozy and entertaining way to add warmth to your home in the winter, but burning wood produces fine particulate matter that can pollute your home and be harmful to your lungs and heart. Burning also produces carbon monoxide and other toxins that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone.

Scientific research has linked exposure to particle pollution from wood smoke to health problems including aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, and development of chronic bronchitis. For people with heart disease, particle pollution is linked to heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and stroke. People at greater risk of harmful effects from wood smoke are older adults, children and teens, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions such as heart or lung disease and asthma.

People who are at higher risk for respiratory issues are also more susceptible to infection and severe health consequences from COVID-19.  Exposure to smoke can aggravate severity of COVID-19 symptoms, and infection with COVID-19 can increase health impacts from smoke exposure. The risk of COVID-19 transmission remains very high, and people who are vulnerable should remain at home whenever possible, especially when smoke is present.

Learn more about the health effects of wood smoke.

Keep your family healthy and Albuquerque’s air clean by watching for “No-Burn” days. If you use a woodburning stove, fireplace, or other solid fuel heating device, check Today’s Status or call (505)768-BURN [(505)768-2876] before you burn.

There are various measures you can take to protect the health of yourself, your family, and your neighbors from the potentially harmful effects of residential wood smoke, both indoors and out:

  • Upgrade your old wood burning device to a cleaner, more efficient appliance (gas, heat pump, EPA-certified stove).
  • Employ best burn practices, including burning only dry, seasoned firewood and maintaining a hot fire.
  • Have your wood burning appliance and chimney inspected by a certified professional chimney sweep.
  • Install an air cleaner or HVAC filter to help reduce airborne contaminants in a building or small space, including viruses and the fine particles in wood smoke.
  • If smoke from a neighbor is entering your home, consider taking simple steps to weatherize your home, and open windows for fresh air at times when smoke levels are lower.

Learn Before You Burn

Follow these tips from the EPA to reduce wood smoke and keep your family healthy and our air clean.

Burn the Right Wood

Not all wood is the same, and depending on what you burn, different combinations of harmful gasses and particles are released. Only burn dry, seasoned wood to reduce particle pollution. Splitting wood will help it dry much faster. Softwoods, such as Douglas fir, need six months to dry, and hardwoods like oak need at least one year.

Learn how to prepare wood for burning.

Burn the Right Way

Burning wet wood creates a lot of smoke and burns inefficiently, reducing heat benefits and increasing the amount of harmful particles released into the air. You can buy a basic moisture meter ($20-$40) at a hardware store or online to test the wetness of your wood before burning. Split the wood and test the newly split side for an accurate reading. Wood should only be used if the moisture content is 20% or less.

Learn how to check wood for moisture.

Getting your woodburning appliance, chimney, and vent professionally inspected annually is important to keep it in safe and working order.

Burn in the Right Appliance

Old wood stoves burn less efficiently and pollute more than newer models. EPA-certified wood stoves and fireplace inserts (wood stoves designed to fit into a fireplace) reduce air pollutants by 70% compared to older models. Always check Today's Status or call (505)768-BURN [(505)768-2876] to make sure conditions are “Ok to Burn.”

Find cleaner-burning appliances.

Never burn garbage, plastic, or pressure-treated wood, which can produce harmful chemicals when burned. The residential woodburning regulation requires that people operating solid fuel heating devices only use fuel recommended by the manufacturer and follow all instructions for device installation and operation.

Using a portable air cleaner and/or upgrading the air filter in your furnace or central heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system can help improve indoor air quality.

Fireworks and Air Quality

Similar to wood smoke, fireworks also produce high levels of particulate matter and can contribute to poor air quality conditions. Air pollution from fireworks linger in the area surrounding explosions. Lighting fireworks in your yard, driveway, or street releases particulate matter into the surrounding air and can aggravate health conditions. Depending on the number and frequency of fireworks ignited, levels of particulate matter could exceed safety standards set by the EPA and contribute to harmful health impacts.

Burn Restrictions

The Air Quality Program may issue burn restrictions from October to February, when increased woodburning combined with weather conditions result in high levels of particle pollution in the air. (Regulation 20.11.22 NMAC) Burn restrictions apply to every individual within Bernalillo County unless they have applied for and received an exemption from the Air Quality Program. The purpose of burn restrictions is to reduce adverse health impacts to individuals who are sensitive to particle pollution, including children, pregnant women, older adults, and individuals with pre-existing heart and lung disease.

Before issuing a “No-Burn” order, a team of technical experts evaluates current pollutant levels, daily weather patterns, air movement, and temperature levels. The conditions that trigger burn restrictions are rare; a “No-Burn” order has not been necessary since December 2006.

 “No-Burn” orders are published on the Air Quality Program’s website, and also communicated to local news and radio stations. If you use a woodburning stove or fireplace, check Today's Status or call (505)768-BURN [(505)768-2876] to make sure conditions are “Ok to Burn.”

What is regulated?

If you live in Albuquerque-Bernalillo County, you must check Today's Status before you burn using any of the following solid fuel heating devices:

Request a No-Burn Exemption

There are some exemptions to burn restrictions for Albuquerque-Bernalillo County. You may request an exemption from the Air Quality Program allowing you to burn during a No-Burn period if any of the following apply to you:

  • Use of an EPA-certified wood stove or fireplace
  • If the woodburning device is the sole source of heat
  • Medical necessity of a woodburning device
  • Low income status
  • Emergency situations such as the failure of a residence's primary heating system

If you believe you qualify for an exemption based on one of the above factors, you may submit an exemption request online or via mail or e-mail

For more information, call (505) 768-1972 or email [email protected].

Report an Air Quality Concern or Violation

The Air Quality Program takes compliance violations seriously and follows up on each complaint. We appreciate the support we receive from residents and count on your participation to help maintain good air quality in Bernalillo County. Report anyone violating air quality or dust control standards to 311.

EPA Burn Wisely

Get an EPA-certified wood-burning stove or heater.

Click here to access the EPA Certified Wood Heater Database.

"Just 20 old non-EPA-certified wood stoves can emit more than 1 ton of fine particles into your area during the cold months of the year."

-EPA

Learn more