Limiting winter fires helps Portland's toxic air...

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Limiting winter fires helps Portland's toxic air...

Postby Wilberforce » Sun Mar 11, 2018 4:42 pm

Limiting winter fires helps Portland's toxic air, and it's the law: Guest opinion
Updated Feb 18; Posted Feb 18
A new Multnomah County law limits the use of wood fires, both inside and out, during the worst air quality days in winter.

By Guest Columnist

By Sharon Meieran and Jessica Vega Pederson

The Portland area has a problem with air pollution. Hazardous pollutants come from old diesel engines dumped here from states with stricter emissions regulations, a growing number of cars and trucks on the roads, industrial plants and forest fires like last summer's Eagle Creek Fire. And a surprising amount of particulate matter -- one of six common air pollutants tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency -- actually comes from wood stoves and fireplaces.

With so many different sources of pollution, we need more than a single solution. State lawmakers must see to it that dirty diesel engines are removed from our roads and construction sites. Polluters must start paying for their pollution, as well as the monitoring necessary to check their compliance with health standards.

There's also a lot we can do in our own lives, including changing the way we burn wood.

Like most readers, we enjoy the ambiance and warmth of a wood fire. But wood smoke contains tiny particles that get deep into our lungs when we breathe, making it one of the largest sources of cancer-causing chemicals in our air. Smoke particles make people who suffer from heart and lung diseases sicker. And the particles can cause breathing difficulties and eye irritation in healthy people as well.

What's more, our region is bumping up against federal pollution limits established as part of the Clean Air Act. If we don't control our emissions, the federal government could impose onerous rules that may harm business and limit economic development opportunities.

That's why we took action locally. Last month, Multnomah County passed a measure to ban wood burning on the worst air quality days during the fall and winter. When the County calls a "wood smoke curtailment" day, neither individuals nor businesses will be allowed to burn wood, unless it is a household's primary source of heat, used for food preparation or for ceremonial reasons, or if there is an unexpected emergency, such as a power outage.

Low-income households are also exempt, as are households with EPA certified stoves. The new rules went into effect last week, and will be in effect each year from Oct. 1 through March 1. Residents can get current air quality information on the county website, register wood-burning complaints by emailing or ask questions by calling 503-988-0035.

We hope people will comply with these new rules, considering the most vulnerable among us before burning wood on the worst air quality days of winter. We also hope everyone will go further and take action on the other major sources of air pollution. Call or write to your state lawmaker and voice your support for legislation to get dirty diesel engines off our roads and make industry pay for the Cleaner Air Oregon program.

We all have a role to play in keeping our air clean, reducing our risk of cancer and ensuring the health and wellbeing of everyone in our state. Together, we can make a difference.

Sharon Meieran is an emergency room physician and serves as a Multnomah County Commissioner representing District 1. Jessica Vega Pederson has served in the Oregon House of Representatives and is currently a Multnomah County Commissioner representing District 3.

source ... ps_po.html

Wood smoke negates other efforts to reduce pollution
Posted on February 24, 2018 by Breathe Clean AIr

Wood burning–once thought of by many as a people and earth-friendly source of heat–is worsening pollution in cities in Europe.

A recent article in the Guardian, “Is your wood stove choking you? How indoor fires are suffocating cities” highlights how the push to move to supposed ‘renewable’ energy, has meant that gains in other areas to reduce pollution are being negated by the increase in wood smoke.

As the article notes, the increasing popularity of wood fires, scientists warn, threatens to erase any progress big cities might achieve in reducing pollution from traffic.
Wood smoke also carries more carcinogens than diesel or petrol exhaust.

Additionally, the smoke is very toxic. According to Leigh Crilley, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Birmingham, wood smoke also carries more carcinogens than diesel or petrol exhaust.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is calling for an overall ban on the use of wood, coal and other solid fuels, to deal with the high levels of fine particulates attributable to wood heating. However, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it would not ban domestic burning, or prevent the installation of wood stoves. It said it might take action on the use of insufficiently dried or seasoned wood, which produces more smoke, and was considering granting local authorities new powers to deal with persistent smoke offences.

While the Mayor’s approach would guarantee a huge reduction in harmful particulates in London, DEFRA’s kid glove proposal is unlikely to see notable difference, particularly if more and more people continue to install wood stoves. And even good stoves burning dry wood produce more fine particulates than a diesel truck so pollution levels will still increase.

Additionally, DEFRA’s timid “solution” will transfer the burden for the problem to local governments who will be the ones getting out and enforcing any regulations about dry or seasoned wood, and onto the neighbours who often need to complain about being smoked out before anything might be done.

Good neighbors don't burn wood (St Cloud)

Note to polluters: your neighbor's air is not yours to pollute. You can heat with a clean source, like the rest of us. Gas or electric. And not pollute the neighborhood. Why do you think you are special?

There is no reason people should be allowed to burn wood and pollute for blocks around.

Fireplaces and wood stoves create the worst pollution in this town.

People who live around wood smoke breathe the poison smoke that these fires pump into the air. Adults and children.

Public officials have a duty to prevent this pollution. The smoke has made living here a nightmare. Pollution victims are deprived of their right to enjoy living in the neighborhood and not be poisoned by this crap.

Burning 10 lbs of wood can emit the same amount of toxins as 6,000 packs of cigarettes.

Wood smoke is extremely toxic, with over 200 dangerous chemicals and heavy metals attached, including dioxins. The EPA estimates that the amount of particulate pollution from wood smoke is 12 times as carcinogenic as an equal amount from second hand cigarette smoke.

source ... 74498.html

Dear Editor:

I was surprised to learn that New Westminster hadn’t banned open hearth fireplaces already. While some homes may use their fireplaces occasionally for special events four or five times a year, many people suffer 365 days a year with respiratory difficulties.

In my neighbourhood, there are at least three or four homes with fireplaces. The smoke that is emitted from their chimneys can be smelled inside other people’s homes. Recently, the black smoke that came from one chimney was so toxic looking that it could not be from wood burning but trash or something else, and who knows what toxins were in the air that day!

I look forward to the day when all wood-burning fireplaces are banned throughout our city and the Greater Vancouver area.

Mabel Hadden, New Westminster

source ... 1.23154150

LETTER: It’s time for mayor to walk the talk on woodsmoke

Feb. 13, 2018 6:30 a.m.LettersOpinion

Re: RDN urged to address air quality issues now (The NEWS, Nov. 21, 2017).

Parksville Mayor and RDN Director Marc Lefebvre said, after reading all the literature about the harmful health effects of smoke, “I put on my layman’s glasses and I sincerely believe, looking at all these issues cropping up, I think we should ban woodstoves and fireplaces.”

“To me that’s one of the only ways that I think, if we’re going to do anything substantial,” said Lefebvre, who added that in Parkskville, although backyard burning is controlled pretty well, with the “hundreds” of woodstoves and fireplaces in the city, at the present time they do “absolutely very little.”

“Bigger cities have done it… I think the City of Montreal has a seven- or eight-year timeframe that all woodstoves are banned,” said Lefebvre.

This was said during the RDN directors’ meeting on the 14th of November, 2017, and we have still not seen or heard of any action from Mayor Lefebvre and/or Parksville Council on banning woodstoves.

It’s time to act now, not after another study which proves that wood smoke still kills.

Bob Budd
source ... woodsmoke/
• 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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