Let's work together to breathe cleaner air this winter

Discussion on health consequences of air particulates

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Let's work together to breathe cleaner air this winter

Postby Wilberforce » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:18 pm

Caldwell, Ehrhardt: Let's work together to breathe cleaner air this winter
Created: 11/18/2012 12:33:29 AM PST

When temperatures dip this winter, many families will light fires and huddle around them. Burning wood for warmth is a practice that goes back millennia, one that has survived to this day in many homes.

But because of modern scientific research, we know that wood smoke can be dangerous to breathe. And because of modern technology, we know that there are far more efficient ways to heat our homes than open-hearth burning. And thanks to modern weather forecasting tools, we know that there will be certain days this winter in which wood smoke will linger in our community and threaten the health of our most vulnerable residents.

When conditions are windy or wet, pollutants tend to disperse and concentration levels remain lower. On calm, dry and mild days, the air becomes stagnant, wood smoke lingers and ground-level pollution increases.

Because wintertime air pollution can impact the health of everyone - but particularly children, the elderly and those with lung ailments - a local agency, the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District, advises residents to avoid burning on specific days.

The program is called Don't Light Tonight, and its aim is to reduce the health risks associated with wood smoke by calling on the community's help to avoid burning on days when conditions are projected to keep pollution in our neighborhoods.

When Yolo-Solano Air Quality forecasts pollution levels over a certain threshold, a Don't Light Tonight advisory will be called. Residents are asked to refrain from burning wood in their fireplaces or wood stoves during the advisory.

A reduction in burning will reduce wood smoke particles being added to the stagnant air, and should keep concentrations lower. Lower concentrations of air pollution will reduce health risks.

Some neighboring counties ban all wood burning on certain days. Yolo-Solano Air Quality has been able to maintain a voluntary program thanks in part to the cooperation of residents participating in Don't Light Tonight. Participating not only improves the public health of our community, but helps businesses, too. Regions that fall short of federal air quality standards impose tighter regulations on businesses that emit pollutants, including power plants, factories and agricultural processing plants. The Sacramento region, which includes Yolo County, now meets the federal fine particulate pollution standard. A smoky winter could knock us back out of attainment. Let's work together to prevent that.

For our children, for our neighbors, for our business community, for us: let's breathe cleaner air. You can find out how to receive Don't Light Tonight advisories at ysaqmd.org/wood. Spread the word to neighbors who burn. Contact Yolo-Solano Air Quality (757-3650) with any questions.

Dr. Constance Caldwell, M.D., is the interim Public Health Officer for Yolo County. Matt Ehrhardt, P.E., is the executive director of the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District.

http://www.dailydemocrat.com/guestopini ... leaner-air


Yolo-Solano Air district issues reminder
http://www.thereporter.com/news/ci_2202 ... s-reminder
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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