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Backyard fires hazardous

PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 7:59 pm
by Wilberforce
Backyard fires hazardous
Daily Photo Galleries
Friday - September 12, 2014
By The Tribune-Review
Friday, Sept. 12, 2014, 8:57 p.m.
Updated 2 hours ago

Nafari Vanaski's column “Vanaski: Rules would put damper on backyard fires in Allegheny County” illuminates an ignored public health issue and the opportunity to examine the social norms of wood burning.

Evidence is mounting about the health impacts of the pollution that wood burning produces. The health risk factors of wood smoke have been equated to the risk factors of secondhand smoke from tobacco use. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has listed substances including benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and other dangerous toxics in wood smoke. Especially dangerous is particulate matter that is emitted, with particles so small they can lodge deep in the lungs and migrate into the bloodstream.

Particles that small cannot be kept out of neighbors' homes. Individuals have reported significant impacts to health such as heart arrhythmias, reduced lung function, increased asthma attacks, headaches, bronchitis, sinusitis and pneumonia. All age groups are impacted but the young, with their developing lungs, and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

The Clean Air Council, with its mission to protect everyone's right to breathe clean air, applauds Ms. Vanaski and supports her fireless celebrations.

Joseph Otis Minott


The writer is executive director of the Clean Air Council (, a nonprofit environmental organization with offices in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Wilmington, Del.

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