Why You Shouldn’t Burn Wood This Winter

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Why You Shouldn’t Burn Wood This Winter

Postby Wilberforce » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:44 pm

Why You Shouldn’t Burn Wood This Winter
Posted by Vanguard Administrator
Date: January 31, 2018
in: Breaking News, City of Davis, Environment
(4) Comments
(From Press Release) – As winter settles in Yolo and Solano County, so does cooler temperatures, brisk mornings and often, the smell of wood smoke permeating the air.

Many people associate cold weather with a crackling fireplace and a cup of hot chocolate or associate wood burning with their holiday tradition. What many people don’t realize is that burning wood significantly contributes to particulate matter (PM) in the air and is hazardous to your health.

“Particulate matter can be inhaled by anyone who smells wood smoke,” said Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District’s Director Mat Ehrhardt. “There is no distinction between young and old, fit or not. Particulate pollution can affect everyone.”

Particulate matter, or particulate pollution, is a complex mixture of chemicals that vary in size, shape and chemical composition. Some particles, such as dust, soot or smoke, are large enough to be seen with the human eye, while others are so small they are 1/30 the width of a human hair.

When particulate pollution is inhaled, it can cause serious health problems because they can lodge deep into the lungs or even enter the bloodstream. Short term health effects from PM include coughing and sneezing and can worsen existing conditions such as asthma and heart disease. In addition, since the region sits in a basin, winter inversion layers trap wood smoke and other
pollutants close to the ground, adding to the exposure and length of time residents are subjected to particulate pollution.

“Already this winter season, we have had 21 ‘Don’t Light Tonight’ advisories in the District,” said Public Information Officer Jenny Tan. “Many of those days had temperature inversions or ridges of high pressure that prevented pollutants from dispersing.”

Though rain and wind provide temporary reprieves from PM and help clear out pollutants, there are many more days of stagnant or stationary air expected before winter ends that will keep particulate pollution confined to the region and the air we breathe.

Here are some tips to help lower your PM footprint:

• Refrain from burning wood.
• If you do burn wood, make sure the wood is burned properly and is well seasoned.
• Never burn plastic, rubber or trash.
• If it’s cold, turn up the heater or use electric blankets instead.
• Replace your old wood stove with a cleaner appliance.

Here are some tips to lower your exposure to particulate matter:

• Limit your outdoor physical activity or avoid areas that smell like wood smoke.
• Sign up to receive free advisories or alerts at http://ysaqmd.enviroflash.org/.
• Change out household air filters regularly.
• Close windows and doors when particle levels are high.
• Explore options like air purifiers with HEPA filters to reduce PM inside the home.

For more information about the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District, including signing up for air quality alerts and the monthly newsletter, visit: www.ysaqmd.org
Connect with the District on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/YoloSolanoAir
or on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/YoloSolanoAir.

http://www.davisvanguard.org/2018/01/sh ... od-winter/

Fire pits, Fireplaces and Chiminea-Tips for Respiratory Patients
Posted on October 17, 2017
Author: Gretchen

This blog post was written by Katie Keating, RN, MS, patient advocate

Firepits, Fireplaces and Chimineas-Tips for Respiratory Patients

Do you enjoy sitting around a crackling fireplace indoors or cozy firepit outdoors on a fall night? I have always loved doing so; it brings back fond childhood memories of toasting marshmallows or singing around the fire. Outdoor fires make you feel alive. The crackling sounds of indoor fireplaces, the hearth of a home are comforting, inviting.

I have been in denial about the possibility of fire smoke irritating my lungs or causing lung damage for years since I enjoyed using fireplaces and firepits so much. Over the past few years though, I have decided that it just is not worth taking a chance of injuring my lungs. Hence, I no longer sit by a campfire, a firepit, chiminea or an indoor wood-burning fireplace. I value my health too much and will take any preventive measure to lessen the chance of aggravating the health of my lungs.

The best way to manage chronic lung disorders is to avoid the things that make them worse. It is so important to identify irritants that can trigger respiratory symptoms.

Burning wood releases pollutants into the air we breathe; wood smoke contains millions of tiny particles. Breathing in wood smoke can irritate sensitive airways, cause airway tightening, increase respiratory symptoms, increase hospital admissions, exacerbate COPD, and decrease your ability to breathe normally. Simply put, if you have a lung disease, breathing in wood smoke can make your disease worse and cause a flare-up.

Smoke isn’t the only health hazard you should avoid. Y The heat itself can be harmful. Inhaling air that is consistently at a higher temperature than the surrounding air can cause more damage to the lining of your lower respiratory tract than smoke inhalation. (1)

Environment Canada and Health Canada has identified many hazardous chemical substances in wood smoke, including: (2)

PM2.5 consists of a mixture of microscopic particles of varied size and composition and has been declared a toxic substance under the Environmental Protection Act. These particles can be inhaled deep into the lungs, leading to serious respiratory problems, including mortality, especially among those with pre-existing cardiopulmonary illnesses.
Carbon monoxide (CO) can reduce the blood's ability to supply necessary oxygen to body's tissues, which can cause stress to the heart. When inhaled at higher levels, CO may cause fatigue, headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and disorientation.
Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) can lower the resistance to lung infections. In particular, nitrogen dioxide can cause shortness of breath and irritate the upper airways.
Hydrocarbons (HC) — can damage the lungs.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can cause respiratory irritation and illness. Some VOCs emitted by wood-burning appliances, such as benzene, are known to be carcinogenic.
Formaldehyde can cause coughing, headaches and eye irritation and act as a trigger for people with asthma.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) prolonged exposure to PAH's is believed to pose a cancer risk.
Dioxins and furans some dioxins and furans are carcinogenic.
Acrolein can cause eye and respiratory tract irritation.

Outdoor fire pit burning creates smoke that contains many pollutants and irritants, which can cause or aggravate lung health problems as well as negatively impact air quality. Environment Canada and Health Canada have identified many hazardous chemical substances in wood smoke specifically for firepits, including:

PM10 inhalable particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter) consists of a mixture of microscopic particles of varied size and composition, and has been declared a toxic substance under the Environmental Protection Act
Also, carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, dioxins and furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, (PAHs) and acrolein as previously listed and discussed above.

Chimineas are ceramic wood burning appliances that people use outdoors, often on patios. The same concerns apply here as to other open burning. The open design of these devices leads to inefficient burning of the wood. Wood smoke from chimineas may stay closer to the ground since they have low chimney stacks, and can pose a problem for neighbors. Many communities have laws regarding burning outdoor fires.

Hence, all wood burning devices may result in respiratory issues. If you must join in on activities that may put you at risk, try to sit as far from the fire as possible and pay attention to the direction the wind is blowing. Absorb the atmosphere — but not the smoke. Remember the old cliche: An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. I wish you the very best. Other comforts will eventually replace the loss of the firepits, chimneas and/or fireplaces.


1) Lungs, Breathing and Allergy Team, Pulmonary Function Lab Director Bohdan Pichurko, MD.

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2017 ... fety-tips/">https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2017/04/fire-pits-bonfires-and-your-lungs-7-safety-tips/

2) Canadian Lung Association, 2017, www.ab.lung.ca

The COPD Foundation advises that before you make any changes to your medication or therapies that you first consult with your doctor.

https://www.bronchiectasisandntminitiat ... y-Patients
• 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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