Wood smoke pollution affects air quality, property values

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Wood smoke pollution affects air quality, property values

Postby Wilberforce » Fri Jan 09, 2015 9:33 pm

Wood smoke pollution affects air quality, property values

By Noelle Robbins, My Word

Posted: 01/09/15, 7:23 PM PST |
# Comments

I am becoming more and more aware of a problem affecting whole blocks of my East End neighborhood: an overall degradation of air quality due to wood smoke pollution.

To get the New Year off to a good, clean air start, I want to share some basic facts about wood smoke pollution with my fellow Alameda residents.

1) Wood smoke does not have to be visible to be toxic. According to the California Air Resources Board, "If you can smell smoke, you have a problem."

2) Wood smoke from any source is toxic. It's more toxic than secondhand cigarette smoke, which we have, as a city, banned from Park Street over health concerns.

Here is what I experienced on a recent night and questions it raised in my mind:

On Dec. 31, from 10:30 p.m. until morning hours Jan. 1, white smoke haze was in evidence on the entire block of Moreland Drive, between Buena Vista and Lincoln avenues with haze encroaching onto Northwood Drive.

The haze was very thick from sidewalk to rooftops; I could see clear sky above the haze. My clothes reeked of wood smoke after a 10-minute walk on this block at 10:30 p.m. I was puzzled about the lack of a Spare the Air day alert when there obviously was an inversion occurring in Alameda, holding wood smoke -- perhaps a combination of indoor-generated smoke exiting chimneys and outdoor-generated smoke from cooking activities -- to the ground, creating this thick wood smoke pollution haze, which entered my home all night long.

Why was there not a Spare the Air alert called, based upon weather conditions? Because it was a holiday? I would think that smoke trapped from the sidewalk to rooftops, with clear sky visible above, would certainly qualify as a Spare the Air situation. And this most definitely was wood smoke, not fireworks.

One important thing to remember about wood smoke is that even though it may smell good, it is not good to smell or inhale.

In addition to the serious health hazards posed by wood smoke pollution, which you can read about on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District website, the potential damage to property values is a real issue as well.

I received this New Year's Day response from California attorney Greg Glaser on the obligations of home sellers regarding wood smoke pollution: "Yes, if the neighborhood smoke materially impacts air quality (either to form a sort of nuisance or health risk) that would be reported on the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement and also the Seller Property Questionnaire."

This is a serious issue, which can open all Alameda residents in areas with wood smoke pollution to the risk of lower property values, legal issues regarding disclosure at time of home sale and possible retroactive lawsuits if buyers of homes discover pre-existing wood smoke pollution problems after purchase.

We have lived in our Alameda home for more than 21 years, and this past year will go down as one of the smokiest we have ever experienced, throughout every season and weather condition. I am concerned about the health and well-being of my family and neighbors, and about the possible impact on my property values.

You should be, too.

Noelle Robbins is an Alameda resident.

http://www.thereporter.com/general-news ... rty-values
• 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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