the odour is a chemical odour but no worse than what you would find with a chemical log or gas fireplace. Once you get used to it,you really don't notice it. I too have heard the odour is harmless. I'm not up on my chemistry but what is the by product of burning alcohol? Water and oxygen is basically what you get from alcohol so it should be just fine. Check with a standards branch for fireplaces I guess. We are pleased with ours so I say, give it a try!You can buy the fuel in 'bulk' and refill the cans. We purchased our replacement gel from a restaurant supply operation place as all restaurants use it under those pans of prepared foods (in a buffet) so check out a restaurant supply house in your yellow pages.