British Lung Foundation
34,250 members41,646 posts

What do the community think about open fires- burning either wood or coal- for people with lung disease?

I've been diagnosed with bronchiectasis in the past year, though had it for much longer- took more than 2 years to get specialist referral, GP just kept saying it was my asthma/indigestion/post nasal drip.......... Happily now under control with azithromycin on alternate days. It is getting round to the winter and we have always had an open fire on cold evenings. I'm now wondering if this could make my symptoms worse.

10 Replies

We don't have a coal fire but have holidayed a number of times in cottages that do. I haven't found they have affected me, maybe made the air a little dry so I have always made sure I drink plenty of fluids (water and wine!). I think keeping warm is the most important thing and the warmth of a coal fire is wonderful. That said, if in doubt have a word with your GP or respiratory nurse.



I think it would be important to have an efficient chimney, swept regularly. Nowadays the sweep leavesa certificate or report. Trouble is it costs. 2 years ago it was £70 so I'm weighing up whether or not it's worth it for the occasional fire.

I use those pre-formed logs sometimes that are probably diabolical if the fumes were breathed directly. Mostly I use smokeless fuel. I think modern wood burners are supposed to be regulated regarding the burning of wood/coal etc.

It's worth looking on a website about it as there are clean air laws now too.

The other day I was walking my dog (in my smokeless zone area) and found my self choking on someone's chimney smoke & had to cover my nose & mouth - I'm only mild so I imagine it would be worse for others.... peeg


Be aware that open fires aren't a good idea for oxygen users...... seriously, if a fire is burning properly and the chimney is clean, then wouldn't the heat take all the smoke, fumes etc. up the chimney ? It would also mean that fresh air is being brought into the room, if you have adequate ventilation (known in my youth as a draught)

1 like

There was a similar post about this a few days ago,,,i have a open fire,,because i live in a small village we are restricted to oil or multi burners and storage heaters,,i have never suffered by having a open fire,,,have the chimney swept reguarly,,it costs £26.. which is for house or bungalow,, I burn both logs and coal,,have learnt to clear ash asp from the fireplace,,even a walk round the village in the evening( with torches,, no street lights either),never affects me although you can smell it in the air,,,maybe i,m just lucky,,,


My husband and I go to the West Coast of Ireland every year and usually stay in a B&B. Last year, we decided to use a cottage (in the same village). This cottage had an open fire and we were supplied with a load of turf slabs.

These gave off great heat and the smell was wonderful. I had no ill effects when we used the turf and I am diagnosed as having severe COPD.

I would say any possible effects would differ from person to person.



Im not sure about smoke and bronchiectasis but smoke of any kind is a no-no for people with copd. Diagnoses are rising hugely for women in places like Africa and India who do not smoke but cook indoors on wood burning stoves, due to the fumes and particulate matter in the smoke. As with most things how far this affects us will vary but ventilation must be very important. And best to use a good quality mask if clearing out ashes - jean


I have bronchiectasis and I have to avoid smoke like the plague. However, I think this illness affects people differently, as well as smoke I can't tolerate steam and dust. Maybe you have to think back and try to remember if your condition was worse when you were in contact with the open fire or, in fact any other smoke.


I have COPD I moved to a mining area of our town all old cottages lovely place but the most of them have coal fires I had only been hear for twelve months before I was diagnosed


My husband suffers from asthma and our neighbour installed a wood burner without planning permission. It is too low and smoke blows into our garden and windows 365 days of the year. My husband's lung age has increased from last year's medical which placed them at 38 (his age at the time) to 47 this year. Our local council will not enforce this flue being brought down despite the considerable social and health nuisances involved. If you are affected in a similar way, please visit our Facebook page and "like" us.


i to me i be in a cvofin within an hour, i live in Wales and thank god there are not so many coal fires now .


You may also like...