Campfire smoke has its health hazards

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Campfire smoke has its health hazards

Postby Wilberforce » Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:29 am

note: this article cites CleanAirRevival:

Campfire smoke has its health hazards
The Grand Haven Tribune
Posted Sep 13, 2008 @ 03:30 PM

Ferrysburg, MI — Campfires are a common sight during summer months, but some area residents
are concerned about the effect those fires can have on neighbors.

Ferrysburg resident Ken Cott said he’s not opposed to burning, but he does wish the community was
more aware of the health effects of wood smoke.

“The health effects aren’t well-understood,” he said. “I think we need to develop an awareness of
the other side of the recreational fire story.”

The problem stems from the smoke of neighborhood fires, Cott said — and on warm summer nights,
it can drift into his open windows. While people sitting around a fire can move out of the smoke,
neighbors in the area aren’t so lucky.

“Houses can’t be moved,” Cott said, adding that fires multiply quickly during the summer. “It’s like
little firecrackers going off all week.”

And the contents of that smoke are more dangerous than many people think, Cott said. According
to Clean Air Revival Inc.’s Web site, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that wood
smoke is 12 times more carcinogenic than equal amounts of tobacco smoke — and that it stays
active in the body up to 40 times longer than tobacco smoke.

Children appear to be at the greatest risk of health conditions such as acute bronchitis and
respiratory infections, the EPA said.

“I think it’s a health risk for the children,” Cott said.

Cott felt strongly enough about the issue to ask the Ferrysburg City Council to examine its ordinance
dealing with recreational fires. A work session was held and a staff member was asked to research
ordinances regarding recreational fires in other communities, City Manager Craig Bessinger said.

Ferrysburg currently allows the burning of wood in campfires that are tended by someone who is at
least 18 years old, and the fire is at least 10 feet from public streets and sidewalks and 20 feet from

According to the ordinance, recreational fires in Ferrysburg must not create a nuisance, but the city’s
fire department rarely gets any complaints about fires, Ferrysburg Fire Chief Mike Olthof said. Most
come in the spring and usually involve those new to the area, he said, and the department informs
the violators of the ordinance.

What is burned also plays a large part, Olthof said. Recreational fires can only consist of cut logs;
no trash, leaves or brush.

In Grand Haven Township, recreational fires can be no more than 3 feet by 3 feet in size, and must
be contained within an enclosed pit or retaining ring.

“What a lot of people don’t understand is that they’re still responsible where their smoke goes,”
Grand Haven Township Fire Chief Tom Gerencer said.

If smoke from a campfire drifts into a neighbor’s house and causes a nuisance, it must be put out,
Gerencer said — estimating that the department gets two to three such complaints a month during
the summer.

The Village of Spring Lake requires the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department to be notified
before any small campfires are lit, and that those fires be a safe distance from buildings and other

Village residents must also request a letter from the police chief authorizing the fire. According to
department estimates, about a dozen letters are given out yearly.

Still, Cott wants the community to be aware of the dangers of wood smoke.

"I’m not asking for any draconian measures,” he said. “I would like the council to use their best judgment.”

Campfire smoke has its health hazards
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Postby RHaven » Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:33 am

The GHt Fire Chief words and actions don't measure up,seems in the evening they need to see smoke in the headlights to douse the fire, smelling the smoke isn't enough.
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