Medical Effects:Developed World Wood Smoke Hurts Children

Wood smoke (WS) affects the entire body. Pollution levels of  WS are vastly under-reported in the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe and other developed countries, due to the lack of real-time monitoring in neighborhoods, where people spend most of their time. Every fire is the epicenter of a strong particulate pollution event where-ever that fire is lit. Wood fires in the developed world are in addition to an equal amount of pollution from cars, power plants and industry. (See Sources for more information.)

Marketing information promotes more of this toxic burning with false promise. Watch for encouragement to "burn right" and to buy an "EPA Approved clean burning wood stove". "Just don't burn colored paper and plastic" seems to say that wood smoke is OK.  There is talk of "clean burning technology". We are encouraged to burn  candles and incense to relax, to extend our living space by creating a "cozy room outdoors" with a fire-pit. Articles promote smoking food in the house and drone on about great barbecue. Now the EPA is approving Outdoor Wood Boilers (OWB). They will certify OWBs "clean burning".

Our children have smoke in their bedrooms, on their playgrounds, on the streets where they walk to school and play and they are exposed to it in the womb. Their current and future health is at stake. Smoke once emitted cannot be cleaned up. On the average 70% of PM2.5 comes directly into even non-burning homes. True hepa filter air cleaners are becoming a necessity to offer some (but not complete) protection.

Fight smoke with facts. Wood smoke is chemically active in the body 40 times longer than tobacco smoke. One hour of wood smoke lowers the ability to fight off infection by 25 to 40%. Wood smoke spews dioxin into our environment, water and soil. Wood smoke contaminates our food. Educate others. Help spread the web address:

It is time for a parent led movement to stop this burning where-ever it occurs. It is time to write to newspapers, to denounce ads and articles that glorify smoke creation. With the earth population approaching 7 billion people, each one does not need a deadly fire. All who work to protect the public from this increasing smoke habit are heroes and part of the founding movement to make the world a safer place for our children.

All the information in the report below applies to all fires.

Indoor air pollution in developing countries: a major environmental and public health challenge.

Bull World Health Organ. 2000;78(9):1078-92.
Bruce N, Perez-Padilla R, Albalak R.

Department of Public Health, University of Liverpool, England.

Around 50% of people, almost all in developing countries, rely on coal and biomass in the form of wood, dung and crop residues for domestic energy. These materials are typically burnt in simple stoves with very incomplete combustion. Consequently, women and young children are exposed to high levels of indoor air pollution every day. There is consistent evidence that indoor air pollution increases the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and of acute respiratory infections in childhood, the most important cause of death among children under 5 years of age in developing countries. Evidence also exists of associations with low birth weight, increased infant and perinatal mortality, pulmonary tuberculosis, nasopharyngeal and laryngeal cancer, cataract, and, specifically in respect of the use of coal, with lung cancer. Conflicting evidence exists with regard to asthma. All studies are observational and very few have measured exposure directly, while a substantial proportion have not dealt with confounding. As a result, risk estimates are poorly quantified and may be biased. Exposure to indoor air pollution may be responsible for nearly 2 million excess deaths in developing countries and for some 4% of the global burden of disease. Indoor air pollution is a major global public health threat requiring greatly increased efforts in the areas of research and policy-making. Research on its health effects should be strengthened, particularly in relation to tuberculosis and acute lower respiratory infections. A more systematic approach to the development and evaluation of interventions is desirable, with clearer recognition of the interrelationships between poverty and dependence on polluting fuels.
PMID: 11019457 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


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