Asthma and Coal Heating

The subject of coal heating and asthma is one that comes up occasionally from the forum members here at While anecdotal the experiences of the majority of members on this site afflicted with this condition that have switched to coal have reported no change or a change for the positive. Some have also reported their conditon worsening. There is two coal forum topics if you wish to read the opinions and experiences of people with asthma. Others can be found using the search feature.

Best Choice for Asthma Sufferer

Asthma Concerns

While you may be saying to yourself at this point "yea right" lets look at some facts. Asthma cases that have been diagnosed over the preceding decades have been increasing. One major thing that has changed in the living environment is how homes are built and how they are heated. In this time frame we have added insulation, house wraps, air tight windows and many other things that increase the efficiency of heating a home. These improvements have a downside, they trap indoor air pollutants.

The other major change in the home is how heat is distributed. Modern heating systems typically use ducting to distribute heat. Unlike traditional hydronic heating systems ducted heating can harbor and easily distribute harmful molds and other things throughout the home.

Getting back to our topic at hand a coal heating appliance is usually placed in the basement where mold and mildew are more likely to occur because of the usually humid environment. Coal heat is constantly on keeping moisture to a minimum and provides other benefits to make it an inhospitable environment for the growth of mold. The same thing applies to ducted coal heating units, you may not be pushing hot air constantly through ducts but it's a constant gravity flow when the air distribution fan is not operating.

Data and studies are hard to come by which is this case with anything concerning coal heating. There is one study conducted in Germany where they surveyed the parents of children in homes that used coal and wood for heat. They compared them to those in homes using more modern forms of heat.

Relation of Indoor Heating With Asthma, Allergic Sensitisation, and Bronchial Responsiveness

  • This study shows that in a rural population children of families using wood or coal for heating and cooking had a significant lower prevalence of hay fever, atopy, and bronchial hyperresponsiveness than children living in homes with other heating systems.
  • Factors directly related to home wood or coal combustion may explain these findings.
  • Alternatively, using coal and wood burning stoves indoors may be related to a more traditional life style with unknown protective factors that have been lost in families using other sources of energy such as gas, oil, or a central heating system.

This article is not intended to be medical advice but will hopefully shed some light on a complex issue. Consult your physician for medical advice.