Because wood burns in an
oxygen starved atmosphere the organic chemistry involved is much
more complex than in a fireplace. This results in a greater variety
of organic chemicals being produced.
This is the most important
slide in the show. The number of deaths attributed to particulate
pollution exceeds the number of deaths from important cancers
like breast cancer and prostate cancer and exceeds the deaths
occurring in auto accidents by more than 50%. The 1994 Symposium
on Mortality and Morbidity of Particulate Pollution at UC Irvine
was essentially a debate of this assertion and a consensus opinion
supporting this result by Joel Swartz emerged.
A surprisingly large portion
of the population is at risk (50%)-- not just people who are aware
of respiratory problems. Just think of those small retirement
condos huddled together, each with its own wood burning fireplace.
A brief list of health problems
caused or aggravated by wood smoke.
This reviews the standards
in place. Notice that the California State standards are much
more stringent than the federal standards. The EPA is currently
reviewing the Federal standards. It is felt that the Federal standards
are much too loose. California does little to enforce its own
Real-time monitoring of
particulate density on a bad day. This monitoring was done in
an residential neighborhood of Los Altos, CA, an affuent area
in the San Francisco Bay Area, miles away from any industrial
source. It is the type of suburb that people flock to so that
their children can have all the advantages.
Only two days later the
air was much better. This shows that good air is possible and
we should be demanding it. It also shows the effect that a few
burners can have on their neighbors. Regulatory agencies work
with the average conditions over a large area while a wood burner
pollutes his immediate neighbors. Thus one block will be really
dangerous, while a mile away or even closer the air will be clean.
Thus when the regulators call attention to the problem, as they
do in the Bay Area by invoking the "Don't Lite Tonight"
things will really be bad in neighborhoods with burners. Even
then they condone further burning in EPA-Approved stoves.
This slide illustrates that
the air really deteriorates at night. This was a Thursday night.
Residential wood smoke is a dangerous form of air pollution which
is not related to automobiles or industry; in the words of the
comic strip character "We have met the enemy and they are
Here is information from
Joel Swartz and it shows that reactions can be severe to even
brief episodes of particulate pollution. It explains why people
suffering from illness or recovering from a health episode such
as an accident or operation are particularly vulnerable. Think
of your vulnerability if you happen to live next to an habitual