Education: The Fast Fact Sheet


Dec. 2001, updates provided at :

For the complete referenced version visit our web site and look under Fact Sheets.

To simplify reading, preface each number with:"STUDIES SHOW THAT

  1. Soot inhalation (such as wood smoke) kills 60,000 U.S. Citizens a year.
  2. Soot kills close to 3 million people world wide. Respiratory illness is the largest killer of infants.
  3. 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.
  4. Athletes, newborns, fetus,children, the chronically ill, and the elderly die prematurely due to smoke pollution.
  5. Higher smoke levels cause higher chronic respiratory illness and hospitalizations.
  6. Where wood is burned for fuel it is the largest source of pollution.
  7. During burning months 80% of the soot is from wood burning.
  8. Wood smoke makes children sick and causes them to miss school. Wood smoke contains many toxic gases and chemicals including many carcinogens.
  9. Rats given 1 to 2 hours of wood smoke cleared 25% less bacteria from their lungs. They lost 60% in breathing capacity.
  10. Carcinogens in wood smoke contain many of the same carcinogens that are in cigarettes.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. The EPA warns that there is no safe level of these carcinogens. Breathing wood smoke increases your risk of cancer.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. The EPA estimates that wood smoke is 12 times more carcinogenic than equal amounts of tobacco smoke.
  17. Wood smoke attacks our body cells up to forty times longer than tobacco smoke.
  18. 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
  19. 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.
  20. "Simply banning of limiting wood fires could potentially save many lives at little or no cost." David Fairley, Bay Area Air Quality Management District
  21. Neighborhood and work place smoke degrades our quality of life.
  22. Animal studies show that wood smoke exposure can disturb cell functions, destroy cells and cause unusual chemical levels in the blood.
  23. 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.
  24. Wood stove smoke is linked to cancer of the mouth, throat neck and lungs.
  25. 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.
  26. "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, Austria .
  27. 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.
  28. 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 smoking.
  29. 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 candles
  30. "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)
  31. 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 grams/hour
    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 57.6 grams/day)
    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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