Research from Copenhagen University has suggested that woodburning stoves may be damaging to people's health.

According to Professor Steffen Loft of the Department of Public Health at Copenhagen University, tiny airborne specs of “particulate matter” found in wood smoke are “small enough to be inhaled into the deepest part of the lungs”.

The research, which has been recently published in the medical journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, claims that breathing in this particulate matter has a similar effect to inhaling emissions from car exhausts.

This, Loft said, can be linked to heart disease, asthma, bronchitis, cancer and other health problems.

"The particles that come from wood smoke can certainly cause fatal heart or lung disease,” he said, adding that “the full scale of the health risk is not currently known”, but that “some people were already feeling the impact”.

In December 2010, a German study into wood burning stoves reached similar conclusions.

Loft continued that stove owner should only use dry wood, cut into small pieces, and should ensure a good flow of air to the fire to minimise emissions.

The Solar Fuel Association told The Telegraph that there is very little chance of fumes escaping into a property from a correctly fitted stove.