Smoke from fires is a health hazard that should concern all.

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Smoke from fires is a health hazard that should concern all.

Postby Wilberforce » Sat Mar 12, 2016 10:37 am

Rare Air

Smoke from beach fires is a health hazard that should concern all.

Jason Burnett Richard Stedman Mar 10, 2016 0

Who doesn’t like having a cozy wood fire on Carmel Beach? As it turns out, there are lots of people who don’t, and they have good reason for not wanting to be exposed to wood smoke. While you’re enjoying your fire on the beach, many more residents have been suffering from the odor and adverse health impacts from wood smoke exposure. These residents can’t move upwind and have been regularly exposed to the beach fire emissions, sometimes seven nights a week. Furthermore, the fine particulates and harmful chemicals in wood smoke can infiltrate even the most well-insulated homes. Closing windows and doors does very little to reduce exposure.

If you can smell wood smoke, you’re being exposed to it. We do not have instrumentation to detect levels that cause odor – people’s noses are the best detector. Odors, and the associated wood smoke emissions, are a nuisance as well as a public health concern. We do know that the exposures at these low concentrations can trigger asthma attacks and impair lung function. Exposure at higher levels can cause respiratory ailments, heart attacks and stroke.

Wood smoke is natural, so it must be harmless, right? Not so fast. Asbestos, uranium and lead are naturally occurring, too. The adverse health effects of wood smoke have been well-documented in hundreds of scientific studies.

In addition to hazardous particulates that Monterey Bay Air Resources District is monitoring along Carmel Beach, there are many other toxic substances in wood smoke, including benzene, formaldehyde, acrolein and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Burning driftwood and some plastic materials may produce dioxin, a highly toxic and persistent chemical. Exposure to these can produce effects ranging from irritated eyes and throat to lung damage and cancer. Infants and children, along with the elderly and adults with heart or lung conditions, are most likely to be affected, even at low levels, by wood smoke.

It is unfortunate that many people have seen this issue as a call to arms. Many have decided to question the validity and relevance of the data collected by the Air District. While it is easy to debate concentration levels and exposure parameters, the fact remains that folks who live along Carmel Beach have been disproportionately exposed to smoke from wood fires.

We think most would agree that something has to be done. The challenge is to respect the tradition of beach fires while protecting public health and increasing coastal access for those affected by wood smoke. Carmel Beach is one of the last remaining locations on the California coast that, until recently, had allowed uncontrolled burning on parts of the beach.

Most Monterey County residents enjoy some of the best air quality in the nation. Let’s work together to solve the wood smoke problem on Carmel Beach to ensure everyone breathes clean air.

JASON BURNETT is mayor of Carmel and RICHARD STEDMAN is air pollution control officer of the Monterey Bay Air Resources District.

source ... 33048.html
• 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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