BURNING ISSUES - THE FAST FACT SHEET
2001, updates provided at : http://Burningissues.org
For the complete referenced version visit our
web site and look under Fact Sheets.
To simplify reading, preface each number with:"STUDIES SHOW THAT
- Soot inhalation (such as wood smoke) kills
60,000 U.S. Citizens a year.
- Soot kills close to 3 million people world
wide. Respiratory illness is the largest killer of infants.
- Cities with smoky (sooty) air have an increased
sudden death rate of 17%. Homes without central heat and in rural
wood burning areas have increased levels of low birth weight
and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). At one hospital night
shift nurses in the neo-natal intensive care unit have developed
severe asthma and respiratory difficulties due to the smoke entering
the hospital. One nurse linked a baby's death with her first
major asthma attack. This case is pending trial.
- Athletes, newborns, fetus,children, the chronically
ill, and the elderly die prematurely due to smoke pollution.
- Higher smoke levels cause higher chronic
respiratory illness and hospitalizations.
- Where wood is burned for fuel it is the largest
source of pollution.
- During burning months 80% of the soot is
from wood burning.
- Wood smoke makes children sick and causes
them to miss school. Wood smoke contains many toxic gases and
chemicals including many carcinogens.
- Rats given 1 to 2 hours of wood smoke cleared
25% less bacteria from their lungs. They lost 60% in breathing
- Carcinogens in wood smoke contain many of
the same carcinogens that are in cigarettes.
- Air Monitoring in 1992 showed that the highest
concentrations of soot in a neighborhood in California occurred
in the evening when there is no traffic. It was all wood smoke.
- Air monitoring in California in 1994-1999
shows that the smoke from burning of fewer than 10% of the population
causes carcinogens to rise in non burning homes to 70% of the
out door levels.
- The EPA warns that there is no safe level
of these carcinogens. Breathing wood smoke increases your risk
- Wood smoke contains hundreds of chemicals.
. Wood smoke also contains lead, cadmium and arsenic. Even unburned
sawdust is listed as a human carcinogen Group 1. Wood smoke can
damage sperm and cause birth defects.
- Wood smoke particles are very tiny. Picture
of wood particle taken out of a women's lung is on our website.
The smoke moves inside non-burning homes.
- The EPA estimates that wood smoke is 12 times
more carcinogenic than equal amounts of tobacco smoke.
- Wood smoke attacks our body cells up to forty
times longer than tobacco smoke.
- Dioxin. Wood burning is the third largest
source of dioxin in the United States. The exposure to humans
is high because it is generated in our neighborhoods
- Wood smoke costs the San Francisco Bay Area
over $1 billion a year. One fire can cost $40 in increased medical
care to victims. Few people burn at all. The new estimate is
that fewer than 10% ever burn.
- "Simply banning of limiting wood fires
could potentially save many lives at little or no cost."
David Fairley, Bay Area Air Quality Management District
- Neighborhood and work place smoke degrades
our quality of life.
- Animal studies show that wood smoke exposure
can disturb cell functions, destroy cells and cause unusual chemical
levels in the blood.
- A study of Mexican women who cooked over
wood but did not smoke showed that their lungs were ravaged,
scared and bleeding and that they had developed heart disease.They
felt short of breath.
- Wood stove smoke is linked to cancer of the
mouth, throat neck and lungs.
- England banned wood and coal burning in towns
since 1956. (The English government pays the citizens medical
bills.). The Supreme Court of Iowa declared in 1998 that government
bodies do not have the right to allow burning resulting in smoke
crossing property lines. A court in Nebraska awarded damages
to victims of a wood burner.
- "I think that wood smoke is one of
the most harmful air pollutants we have on earth." ( Gerd Oberfeld, M.D., Epidemiologist,
Public Health Office - Unit for Environmental Health, Salzburg,
- A wood burning restaurant fad is sweeping
the country. The restaurants are located in major cities and
suburbs and in shopping centers. They burn up to 1,000 pounds
of wood a week. The smoke permeates the restaurant and the work
place as well as the home. Burning Issues' measurements of smoke
in a wood burning (but non smoking) restaurant were equal to
levels of smoke in a restaurant using clean burning gas to cook
but allowing cigarette smoking. Measurements in a non smoking
restaurant cooking with natural gas showed no measurable fine
particulate in the restaurant.
- Wood smoke contains formaldehyde and hydrocarbons.
Breathing these chemicals and gases has been linked to alcohol
abuse. Smoking tobacco and marijuana are considered to be "gateway
behavior" to more sustained and serious substance abuse.
The same addictive chemicals are found in wood smoke. Children
from areas with high wood smoke could be more likely to begin
- Candles emit soot, the same as any other
solid fuel. The aroma candle fad is on the rise and is expected
to continue to grow. Home owners have sued candle companies over
environmentally friendly candles that have destroyed the walls
and furnishings in their homes. Insurance companies have paid
as much as $15,000 to remove smoke damage from houses burning
- "The largest single source of outdoor
fine particles (PM2.5) entering into our homes in many American
cities is our neighbor's fireplace or wood stove. Despite the
ineffectiveness of a fireplace in heating a home, only a few
hours of wood burning in a single home at night can raise fine
particle concentrations in dozens of surrounding homes throughout
the neighborhood and cause PAH concentrations higher than 2,000
ng/m3. The far reaching implications of these scientific discoveries
for environmental laws have not yet sunk in the Nation's consciousness.
The best way to reduce the exposures of our children and families
to toxic pollutants that cause cancer, asthma, or other diseases
is by taking very simple steps in our daily lives, not relying
on billion-dollar "remediations" or complex laws controlling
industrial point source emissions. Indeed, ignoring indoor air
pollution and human exposure as the nation is doing under its
current environmental laws, is a tragic disregard of our children's
health and the well-being of future generations." ( Dr. Wayne Ott, Statistics, Stanford University)
- Land clearing with open burning, trench burning,
agricultural burning, barrel and trash burning, tire burning,
and wood and coal fired power plants shroud our country with
deadly smoke from coast to coast. Massive multiple car accidents
have been caused by impaired visibility from agricultural burning.
Smoke emergencies caused by fires in Indonesia and Mexico in
1998 raised soot levels in distant lands. Smoke travels up to
700 miles and remains air borne for three weeks unless washed
out by rain.
- AVERAGED EMISSIONS OF FINE PARTICLES IN
GRAMS PER HOUR: Mary J. Rozenberg,
Burning Issues/ Clean Air Revival, Inc., 12/1/98
- Fireplace Soft wood=59 grams/hour.
- Fireplace Hard wood=30 grams/hour
- 1993 and older Diesel truck & bus=70 grams/hr
- 1994 and newer 14 ton Diesel truck=36
- Single simulated (synthetic) log= 8 grams to 40 grams/per log
- Non Certified Stove4 = 15.6 grams/hour
- Certified Stove4 = 8.2 grams/hour (or 196.8 grams/day)
- Pellet Stove 2.4 grams/hour (or
- Auto-catalytic=.66 grams/hour (Driving
3 hours =1.92 grams)
- Auto non catalytic=3.5 grams/hour
- Auto smoking =6 grams/hour
- (30)Cigarette =.4 grams/hour
- Oil furnace=.02 grams/hour
- Gas or Propane Furnace=.001grams/hour
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