Avoid wood smoke

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Avoid wood smoke

Postby Wilberforce » Sun Nov 08, 2015 6:31 pm


Avoid wood smoke
November 7, 2015 12:00 am

Rayan Moukalled

The sentiment that wood smoke, being a natural substance, must be benign to humans is still sometimes heard. It is now well established, however, that wood-burning stoves and fireplaces as well as wild land and agricultural fires emit significant quantities of known health-damaging pollutants, including several carcinogenic compounds.

In many locations, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, wood burning is the single largest source of hazardous particle pollution during winter, creating even more particle pollution than vehicles and industry.

While the pollution from wood burning is especially dangerous for those with existing health conditions, children, and the elderly, it is hazardous to the health of all human beings.

Wood smoke can cause eye, nose, and throat irritations, as well as headaches, nausea, and dizziness. It can make asthma and other breathing (respiratory) problems worse.

Smog, to which wood smoke can be a significant contributor, has been linked to severe health risks, including increased hospital admissions and even premature death. Wood smoke can affect anyone, but these groups are especially vulnerable: People with heart or lung problems. Children, because their respiratory systems are still developing and they tend to be more active and inhale more air.


Where there’s wood…

Posted by: The Local Weekly October 28, 2015 in Letters To The Editor, Opinion Leave a comment

(Re “Wood Rules”, the Local, Oct. 22)

The editorial discusses how to handle your wood this winter, with no acknowledgement of the state of wood smoke pollution on the Sunshine Coast. People accept burning wood here as a ‘green’ thing to do, seemingly unaware how toxic and unhealthy it is.

The argument that man has been burning wood since the beginning of time is often an uneducated reaction to being told it is extremely hazardous to our health. EPA approved wood stoves still emit toxic smoke. Most people do not follow the guidelines for burning wood safely (an oxymoron) and I see people stockpiling cut wood outside their homes in summer, often illegally from the beach, it rains, the wood is soaked, it rains again, they cover with a tarp and trap the damp, then burn it, with dark blue, sometimes nearly black smoke coming out of their chimneys.

The Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, a pro-active group of medical professionals in that State, who see firsthand the serious health issues arising from living in a heavy wood smoke area, have stated 16 reasons why wood burning, both indoors and outdoors, should be banned in all residential areas. Four of these are: (1) lifetime cancer risk is 12X greater for wood smoke compared to an equal volume of second hand cigarette smoke; (2) wood smoke is the third largest source of dioxins, and dioxin is one of the most intensely toxic compounds known to science; (3) wood smoke easily penetrates homes of neighbors, creating indoor concentrations up to 88 per cent as high as outdoor air; (4) if you smell wood smoke, you are being harmed. The sweet smell comes from deadly compounds like benzene. Once you can smell the smoke, you know the concentration of particulate matter is dangerously high.

This means that on the Coast, for most of the fall, winter and early spring months, the air is seriously toxic. Remember last summer’s forest fires and the air quality warnings. Connect the dots. I hear people say they love the smell of smoke; but wood smoke is a serious health hazard.

Valerie Pusey, Gibsons

• 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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