Categories: environment

Cats in front of wood burning fires or stoves might expose them to carcinogens

It has finally dawned on people that their home can be polluted by toxic chemicals from cleaning sprays, pine and lemon scents and wood burning stoves.

You know the classic picture of the family cat roasting himself in front of the classic wood burning fire. So Christmassy, potentially so toxic!

Cat in front of wood burning fire. Sublimely comfortable but is it carcinogenic?

Professor Alastair Lewis tells us today in the The Sunday Times that the worst pollution inside the home comes from open fires or wood burning stoves.

“Burning wet wood or leaves releases benzene and 1,3 butadiene which are also carcinogenic1“.

Indoor toxins are an emerging problem according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). There are lots of potential sources of indoor pollutants. What affects us also affects our cats and sometimes even more so as they can be in closer contact to the pollutants and they lick their fur a lot.

I have mentioned above these damnable and very popular home scents which you plugin. The scents alpha pinene and limonene break down to produce benzene and formaldehyde. The former attacks bone marrow and the latter damages eyes and lungs.

A report from the air quality expert group due out after the UK general election will state that many homes have levels of pollution which are higher than a busy high street. Predominantly the source of the pollutants are cleaning chemicals, cosmetic sprays and aerosol propellants.

On average Britons release 5 pounds of volatile chemicals into their home environments annually. People are using more chemical products than ever before. The manufacturers are clearly unconcerned about the health effects on pets and people inside homes. It was ever thus. The same happens with cars. The SUV is more popular than ever but they have lower miles per gallon or litre performance and are generally less efficient and more polluting. They cancel out the benefits of more electric vehicle sales. The manufacturers still push SUV sales as hard as ever. There is no concern for the environment.

There are invisible pollutants in carpets and furniture, which expose cats to toxic chemicals. These hidden dangers might be the cause of an increase in idiopathic illnesses in domestic cats.

Cat owners should never use scents inside their home and fires and stoves should be purchased and used with caution. I don’t want to go over technical stuff here but as a buyer I would ask the retailer questions about carcinogens. If they can’t provide a credible answer don’t buy.

In the USA, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides excellent guidelines on how to choose the right wood burning stove. And by ‘right’ they mean ones that does not pollute the environment and jeopardise the health of pets and people alike.

1. Carcinogenic – a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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