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The holiday tradition we would be better off without

PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:01 am
by Wilberforce
The holiday tradition we would be better off without
By Alma Hyslop

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 10:57:43 EST AM

Quiz: What holiday tradition is bad for everyone's health, and also bad for the planet?
Hint: "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..."

Yes, that cheerful wood-burning fireplace that confronts us everywhere in image and song at this time of year, is actually a little toxic incinerator.

Burning wood, leaves, or any other biomass releases carbon and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but perhaps the deadliest component of wood smoke is fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

In a joint publication, Public Health Ontario and Cancer Care Ontario identified PM2.5 as the third greatest environmental carcinogen in this province (way ahead of asbestos, formaldehyde, and second-hand tobacco smoke, for comparison). Solar UV radiation and radon claimed the first two spots.
If that isn’t enough bad news, a recent study funded by Health Canada and conducted in British Columbia, found that heart attacks in seniors increased as the level of PM2.5 in the air increased.

This festive season, could we consider the health of everyone around us, and NOT light the fireplace?

Peace, goodwill, clean air, and good health to all.

Public Health Ontario/Cancer Care Ontario. The Environmental Burden of Cancer

Biomass Burning as a Source of Ambient Fine Particulate Air Pollution and Acute Myocardial Infarction

Earth Institute, Columbia University. The damaging effects of black carbon.


Today’s Photo from Ted Grussing Photography:
This and that

By Ted Grussing

… there were some causes I wanted to go into tonight, but it is already 1AM and I just started selecting the photo fortonight, so I’ll just touch lightly on them.

First there is the ever present smoke in the air, much of which has been put into the air by the USFS, but not so much lately … instead we are seeing thousands of slash pile fires all over the valley and plateau, but they are the little ones that add up to a lot; they are the wood fires we have in our fireplaces and in the wood burning stoves that many use to heat their homes and it really yucks the place up as the cool evenings cause the smoke to precipitate out on us and our neighbors. I have also been photographing some field fires in the Camp Verde area which envelope entire neighborhoods in smoke; perhaps this was okay decades ago, but it would be nice if this rancher and others like him would have used his big John Deere tractor to disk the field instead … he used it to clear a fire break around the field … a crappy neighbor to be sure! If you would like to see for yourself, just take a look at what your chimney or your neighbors chimney is putting into the air some evening … then multiply that by thousands throughout the Sedona and Verde Valley area … the stuff likes to sink at night.

Second, a huge round of applause to the USFS: the Kaibab National Forest is partnering with the Nature Conservancy on a forest restoration project near Williams and it will involve a lot of mechanical thinning of the forest. I’m attaching a PDF file which contains a synopsis of the project and a lot of great photos. From the air the difference between burned forest and mechanically thinned forest is dramatic. The mechanically thinned forests are beautiful and will allow natural occurring fire to do its thing in the manner it historically did. The forest where they have done the low intensity fires are not very good looking forest and the reality is that nothing is accomplished to take care of the real problem which is overly dense forests … they may take care of the floor, but the density is still there … mechanical thinning takes care of that primary issue.

Third, some types of burning do very good things and one of them was related to me by a friend where the fire went through some very dense brush and really cleaned the area out … the result was springs began to flow again that had not flowed for years and years … the offending brush root systems had been sucking up all the water.

Fourth, wood smoke is a very real and significant threat to human life. To the USFS, and I guess the ADEQ, smoke is a public relations item and the health to the public is not a factor that is considered in any planning of burns. They do try to get the smoke to leave the area, thereby dumping all this toxic waste material in other areas where people undoubtedly wonder where the heck all this airborne sewage is coming from, but human health is definitely not a concern. This needs to change! The usual mantra is that fire is natural and it is cheap. Yes fire is natural, but not the way they do it, and how cheap is it when thousands of people die and are made sick? Perhaps if they ever factor the health impact and cost in, mechanical thinning will be acknowledged as the cheapest alternative in forest restoration.

In the State of Washington a study there shows over a thousand deaths per year are related to fine particle pollution and an excerpt from the study follows: “Health Costs of Wood Smoke. Many national and international studies show that higher levels of fine particles in the air are associated with diseases and premature deaths. In 2009, Ecology analyzed the health and economic impacts of fine particle pollution, including wood smoke, in Washington. Ecology’s analysis estimates that fine particle pollution causes about 1,100 deaths in Washington each year. In addition, the analysis shows that every year in Washington, fine particle pollution contributes to health problems as shown in the table below: Health Problem Approximate Number of Cases Worsened asthma symptoms Thousands Acute bronchitis, 1,900 Non-fatal heart attacks 1,500 Heart disease not resulting in heart attacks 450 Emergency room visits for asthma 400 Pneumonia 250 Chronic lung disease 100. Ecology estimates that the total cost of these diseases (not counting premature deaths) for citizens, businesses, and state health care institutions is about $190 million each year.21 Total cost includes medical care, prescription drugs, reduced productivity, lost work time, and missed school days.”

Finally, nature needs to pony up some precipitation as it will temporarily clean the air and also produce some much needed snow for those who are heading to the mountains for skiing … I took this shot of Snow Bowl Saturday morning and it shows how desperate they are for snow … one lift, one trail … yikes!

Have a beautiful day today … out to the lake this afternoon and hoping not to go aground in the middle of the lake again … the water levels are lower and hope we do not get the lake equivalent of what Snow Bowl is getting in snow.

Cheers, another day and week is here to be lived.

source ... -and-that/