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According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the smoke from wood burning contains several toxic harmful air pollutants. Made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles, wood smoke contains benzene, formaldehyde, acrolein, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, the Department of Health & Human Services has determined that some PAHs may reasonably be expected to be carcinogens, which are substances that can cause cancer. The EPA notes that wood smoke can be a threat to human health. When microscopic particles from wood smoke, known as particulate matter, get into the eyes and respiratory system, they may cause burning eyes, runny nose and illnesses, including bronchitis. People with asthma may find that fine particles found in wood smoke worsen their symptoms and trigger attacks. People at risk for heart attack, stroke, irregular heart rhythms, and heart failure may want to avoid wood smoke, as the EPA notes that the fine particles found within it may trigger these conditions.

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