Be a part of the solution to air pollution.

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Postby SOUVIENS » Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:11 pm

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Postby FriendofAir » Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:17 pm

The first thing I would do is talk directly with your neighbors, and then post their response.
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on talking with neighbours about wood burning

Postby SOUVIENS » Tue Oct 24, 2006 7:10 am

I have talked with neighbours about wood burning. One was quite upset with us for complaining about outdoor fire set by her young son. The other was more sympathetic, but nonetheless continues with wood burning and having wood delivered. Across the road we understand that wood burning is the main source of heat so therefore we are timid to approach the owners.
A councillor has just informed us that she is writing an article about wood burning in the December issue of the local City Hall monthly news. I guess we should find out if she has all the information that has been collected on the health dangers of wood burning. This might be a more effective general education approach.
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Who will protect the victims of wood burning?

Postby pm2.5mary » Sat Mar 03, 2007 7:03 pm

Posted for Souviens
March 1, 2007-03-01

Dear Neighbours,

Perhaps you have not seen the recent press (La Presse – 27 février, 2007) on the issue of wood burning – « Le chauffage au bois lié au cancer du poumon ». The article explains how cancer is directly linked to wood burning. We have included details about this research and the article below

This week we made a presentation to the Beaconsfield Council about our health problems with wood burning. We have included the letter we sent as victims of wood burning. As you know, our health problems are severe with the burning. The fires have caused us great discomfort for the many months we have been here (see the second page of the letter). Asthma is in part caused by the presence in the air of wood burning particulates – everywhere in suburban Montréal.

We have done a fair amount of research on wood burning. We have discovered that, in fact, wood is more expensive, less efficient and dirtier than the use of electricity or even gas. Both electricity and gas are cheaper and more efficient. More details on this can be found in
Please call if you wish more information on this critical health matter. We could forward the full La Presse article and the research in English partly reprinted below.


Risk of Lung Cancer from Residential Heating and Cooking Fuels in Montreal, Canada

Agnihotram V. Ramanakumar1, Marie-Elise Parent2 and Jack Siemiatycki1,3

1 CHUM Research Centre, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
2 INRS – Armand-Frappier Institute, University of Quebec, Laval, Quebec, Canada
3 Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Correspondence to Prof. Jack Siemiatycki, CRCHUM, 3875 St-Urbain #312, Montreal, Quebec H2W 1V1, Canada (e-mail: ).

Received for publication March 2, 2006. Accepted for publication July 28, 2006.

Among the major sources of indoor air pollution are combustion by-products from heating and cooking. Concern is increasing that use of polluting heating and cooking sources can increase cancer risk. In Canada, most cooking and heating currently relies on electricity or natural gas, but, in the past, and still in some areas, coal and wood stoves were used for heating and gas and wood for cooking. In the course of a case-control study of lung cancer carried out in Montreal in 1996–2001, the authors collected information on subjects' lifetime exposure to such sources of domestic pollution by means of a personal interview with the subject or a next-of-kin proxy. Questionnaires were completed for 739 male cases, 925 male controls, 466 female cases, and 616 female controls. Odds ratios were computed in relation to a few indices of exposure to traditional heating and cooking sources, adjusting for a number of covariates, including smoking. Among men, there was no indication of excess risks. Among women, the odds ratio for those exposed to both traditional heating and cooking sources was 2.5 (95% confidence interval: 1.5, 3.6; n = 253). The findings for women suggest the need for research dedicated to exploring this association, with particular emphasis on improved exposure assessment.

air pollution, indoor; Canada; case-control studies; cookery; fossil fuels; heating; lung neoplasms

February 26, 2007
Mayor Benedetti and Councillors, Beaconsfield City Council
Investing in Beaconsfield`s Clean Air

Last summer we travelled to your beautiful community after six months of searching for a new home in Eastern Canada. We were immediately pleased with the summer cleaner air (in comparison to Toronto). We also were pleased to hear of your initiative with regard to controlling the cosmetic use of pesticides. This control still continues to be a struggle in Toronto. Your recent success in ending cigarette smoking here in Québec is also excellent – this ban has gained widespread public support. All of these findings resulted in our purchasing a new home here and spending many thousands on repairs, etc. (for a total of over $400,000.).

For these same environmental reasons, we would like to propose to your Council that you fully control Beaconsfield wood burning and so inform the rest of West Island.

There is little public awareness of the carcinogenic toxicity of wood burning. As MP Scarpaleggia writes in his January 3rd letter “…wood smoke contains harmful compounds, including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and dioxin. Given that dioxin is a very potent carcinogen and endocrine disruptor, I was particularly disturbed to learn that burning a kilogram of wood can produce 160 micrograms of total dioxins.”

The appendix explains how this burning affects our health. Fumes of local wood stoves fill our home making it unliveable. We have been confined for months to one small middle room to try to escape the fumes. Large plums of grey smoke emanate from chimneys and often darken skies. Burners fill their neighbours` homes with smoke; they show no understanding of health dangers to themselves or their children (e.g. asthma). “Wood smoke is chemically active in the body 40 times longer than tobacco smoke. The particles are smaller than red blood cells.” (see for more detail) Beaconsfield winter air is filled with these lingering poisons.

Recent surveys* show that people want this burning stopped as both health and fire hazard threat. RWB is a major cause of house fires (see Canadian Insurance Bureau statistics). Petitions are gaining widespread support for removing these carcinogenic poisons from our air.

Trees must be left standing to help clean our air. An average RWB home requires 3 cords of wood for burning – this is the equivalent of 15 mature trees! Canada needs to use our precious wood frugally for homes rather than frivolously for burning. The clean answer is electric or gas fireplaces – both are less financially and environmentally costly.

As our Council, you have everything to gain through removing poisonous wood fumes from our air. RWB is a major reason for smog which makes us all ill. Smog particularly endangers children and seniors. The presence of wood smoke in the air makes exercising dangerous (even walking). Thus children and adults who skate, ski or play games such as tennis are helping the fine particulate from wood smoke enter lungs and do fatal damage.

We invite your Council to take the step of removing wood smoke from our air so that the health of all of us may benefit. Then our investment in Beaconsfield will be truly environmentally and financially worthwhile. Only 10% of people are burning wood regularly. Yet the smoke from these few is poisoning the air for all of us. This is the reason for your Council to clean the air for this large majority and continue with your environmental successes.

Sincerely, (address removed for web)
JLe mardi 27 février 2007 La Presse

*Appendix – Letter to Beaconsfield Council – February 26, 2007

Wood Smoke Kills*

Is Anyone Protecting Victims of Wood Smoke Emissions?

Victims of wood burning emissions are not the key focus of official wood burning brochures. Assistance to those who sell wood stoves appears to be the main aim of these leaflets. EPA-approved “efficient” stoves still pollute. Grants to burners to convert old stoves is a waste of tax money and essentially a permit to pollute.
Government leaflets do not emphasize the persistent symptoms experienced by victims when they are subjected to residential wood burning (RWB):

* Stabbing heart pains
* Deep lung aches
* Breathing Difficulties – shortness of breath, lack of oxygen – in all of West Island
* Irritation and burning of eyes and airways
* The persistent burning in victims’ mouths
* Pervasive fatigue – awaking without any sense of rest
* Severe, persistent headaches, dizziness
* Coughing repeatedly with phlegm at night

Victims’ homes are not protected by double-glazed windows or closed doors – as Dr. Drouin of Santé publique explains, these fine particulates and other carcinogenic emissions enter the homes of victims and thus their lungs – causing asthma in children and illness in seniors.

Only 10% of people regularly burn wood. Thus the vast majority of people are victims (we could include the burners themselves) whose homes fill with toxic fumes: dioxin, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, benzene, etc.

More efficient wood stoves still allow dispersal of toxic amounts of these lethal fumes. Densified logs produce less smoke, but still are dangerously toxic.

Many experience these problems, but they are ignorant of their origin in wood burning. Children and seniors are the most hurt by these toxics. The cancer epidemic is worsened by presence of wood burning. 1540* die yearly in Montréal from air pollution; 47% of fine particles are from wood burning and only 17% from transport.

Government bodies are absolutely obligated to inform the public about the toxicity of wood burning without smothering this message in advice about correcting wood stoves. Wood stoves must be converted to electric or gas appliances to eliminate poisons. Wood burning court cases have repeatedly favoured the victims of burning.

Who will protect the victims of wood burning?
Le chauffage au bois lié au cancer du poumon

André Noël

La Presse

Les femmes courent deux fois plus de risques de développer un cancer des poumons si elles ont habité des maisons utilisant des combustibles traditionnels - bois, charbon ou gaz - pour le chauffage ou la cuisson des aliments, selon une étude réalisée à Montréal et publiée dans la dernière livraison du American Journal of Epidemiology.

«Il s'agit d'une des premières études menées en Amérique du Nord qui a investigué les risques de cancer liés aux modes de chauffage et de cuisson», a indiqué un des auteurs de la recherche, Jack Siemiatycki, professeur de médecine sociale et préventive à l'Université de Montréal, au cours d'un entretien hier.

«Des recherches réalisées en Asie, surtout en Chine, avaient déjà montré qu'il y avait des risques de cancers pulmonaires pour les femmes vivant dans des milieux très enfumés, par exemple des maisons où le charbon est constamment en combustion. Mais notre étude donne pour la première fois un indice semblable en Amérique du Nord. Il faudra toutefois d'autres recherches pour vraiment conclure.»

L'association entre cancer du poumon et modes de chauffage et de cuisson n'est pas concluante pour les hommes, selon la recherche publiée sous le titre : Risk of Lung Cancer from Residential Heating and Cooking Fuels in Montreal, Canada.

«Chez les femmes, en revanche, les risques étaient approximativement deux fois plus importants chez celles qui ont rapporté avoir vécu dans des maisons chauffées par des poêles à bois ou au charbon installés dans des pièces habitables, ou qui ont rapporté avoir vécu dans des maisons où la cuisson était faite sur des cuisinières au bois ou au gaz», indique l'étude.

Les auteurs soulignent que les combustibles qu'ils qualifient de «traditionnels» - bois, charbon et gaz - ne sont plus largement utilisés dans les pays développés. Mais ils l'étaient au Québec pendant une bonne partie du XXe siècle. De plus, «il y a eu une certaine augmentation de l'utilisation du bois pour le chauffage et la cuisson au cours de la dernière décennie, au moins en tant que système d'appoint, et le gaz naturel reste un combustible passablement important pour la cuisson», ajoutent-ils.

Environ 10 % des maisons sont dorénavant équipées d'un foyer ou d'un poêle à bois, ce qui est d'ailleurs une source importante de smog, l'hiver. Les cuisinières au gaz sont aussi revenues à la mode. Ces combustibles polluent l'air intérieur des maisons, alors que celles-ci sont de mieux en mieux isolées, notent les auteurs. «De surcroît, les Nord-Américains passent beaucoup de temps à l'intérieur.» ……..
for the victims of wood burning - member Association pour l’air pur de Québec

(see, *details available on request
"Particulate pollution is the most important contaminant in our air. ...we know that when particle levels go up, people die. " (Joel Schwartz, Ph.D., Harvard School of Public Health, E Magazine, Sept./Oct. 2002)
Find more at
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some problems with this article

Postby woodburner » Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:12 am

1. "We have done a fair amount of research on wood burning. We have discovered that, in fact, wood is more expensive, less efficient and dirtier than the use of electricity or even gas. Both electricity and gas are cheaper and more efficient."

What? How much does wood cost in Canada? Gas and electricity are cheaper? This is an certainly incorrect statement. The article itself states that the average wood stove will use 3 cord of wood a winter. So most people in Montreal spend $450 a year to heat with gas or electricity?

Cheap - Always
Free - Sometimes

Cheap - Never
Free - Never

Natural Gas
Cheap - Never
Free - Never

2. "Trees must be left standing to help clean our air."

I would have to argue that a lot more trees are cut down for building, and clearing of land than for home heating.
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the big picture

Postby bodhi » Mon Mar 05, 2007 9:51 am

your neighbors are not responsible for your economic condition whatever that may be. what this is really about is being a decent and considerate neighbor. if you as a woodburner are happy or even indifferent about causing the kind of misery mentioned in the above canadian letters then the root of the problem is clearly visible.
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Postby FriendofAir » Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:07 am

Wood burner makes an economic argument with a small semblance of logic. Using a similar argument may point out some weakness with economics.

Typically, personal hygiene habits are none of my business. But think of the time & money someone could save by not showering or bathing. Their personal health and hygiene may suffer and they would certainly have an objectionable smell.

The same can be said for burning wood. You can save some money, but it sure stinks.

Someone with poor personal hygiene habits does not really bother me. They, and their smell, can be easily avoided if necessary. Neighborhood wood burners on the other hand, are different story.
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Postby woodburner » Mon Mar 05, 2007 11:34 am

FriendofAir: You are missing the point. By using that same logic, this article is actually stating that it is cheaper and faster to shower, than it is to not shower.

You cannot use a false statement for the basis of an argument. If the article had said something along the lines of... "although cheaper, burning wood is dirtier than burning gas" than I wouldn't have even commented on this post. I've stated my opinions on that enough times. This article is simply trying to exaggerate its points by making false statements. Heating with Gas is NOT cheaper than heating with wood.

All my comment is trying to do is show that this article has a plainly stated lie right in its text.
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Postby woodburner » Mon Mar 05, 2007 11:39 am

bohdi: Everyone burns wood around me. We are sparsely populated enough where there are no ill effects.
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Postby VT Woodburner » Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:07 am

Is burning wood in an EPA certified appliance really "dirtier" that burning gas or oil? I would rather have an appliance that emits carbon DIoxide than one that emits carbon MONoxide any day. And wood is cheaper than gas or oil.

Now I feel for the people that are upset with their neighbors. But didn't they even think to research the area they are moving into? Or are they the type that feels that now they are here YOU must change your way of life. If I had someone move next door and come to me and announce that I must cease burning wood because they don't like it for whatever reason, I would tell them "sorry, I will not do so".

If woodburning is legal then the ones that are affected by it should decide whether or not they wist to remain. If you have a reaction to woodsmoke, then don't move to an area whre people burn wood. I have an aversion to urban areas, so should I go to Noo Yawk City and tell them to be QUIET?? I don't think they would listen to me either.
VT Woodburner

Postby slowzuki » Thu Mar 15, 2007 11:28 am

Quebec is different than any other area of north america. They appropriated lands from many native peoples of their area to create a massive network of hydro dams. They have also entered into unfair agreements with a naive neighbouring government (Labrador) and obtain power from hydro dams in that province while paying almost no royalites.

Last time I was there my grandfather was paying 0.02$ a kw/hr at night when his furnace was timed to run and store heat.

Ils ont the grandes resources naturel pour le generation de l'electricitie.
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Postby VT Woodburner » Thu Mar 29, 2007 5:50 am

We in Vermont get a lot of our power from Canada. And it's 15 cents per Kwh. 24/7.
So NOBODY uses electric heat. It would bankrupt us. But we have lots of wood and my stove is EPA compliant.
VT Woodburner

Hampstead ban may have come from this.

Postby Ernest Grolimund » Sun Dec 14, 2008 10:50 am

Hampstead, outside of Montreal, recently banned new woodburning equipment in new residences and is planning to ban old equipment in the future, if my memory serves me right. I can't help but think that maybe that result is something that happened in part due to this forum and the main website. So, I say thank you. I think it is a good idea. CAR: keep up the good work.

Montreal is not too far from where I live and the Maine DEP Air Bureau Head recently went up there. I have pushed for a ban on OWB's with the DEP. We got defeated. I also proposed a ban on all the old woodburning equipment such as stoves and fireplaces. I got defeated on that too, so far. But the DEP is on record as saying all the old equipment should be changed somehow, possibly with a changeout program. The Maine wood to energy task force said old equipment is very polluting and I notice the definition of polluting as something injurious to health which is illegal. So I thank the poster who mentioned this elsewhere for cluing me in to that definition. Now I can perhaps turn this against the governments.
Ernest Grolimund
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Postby Smokelessinvancouver » Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:58 am

I am currently collecting signatures for banning residential wood burning in Canada.

Please let me know if you want to sign it and maybe get some signatures.
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Yes, I'll sign. Great idea. That's doing something.

Postby Ernest Grolimund » Fri Dec 26, 2008 3:16 pm

Yes I will sign your petition. Thank you for starting it. Can you get it on the CAR website? I am waiting for a report on woodstove and fireplace emissions and air concentrations of pm2.5, and after that, I will have to finally write something in a paper if I can get an editor to print it. I called the editor of a local paper who tried to dissuade me suggesting I may get sued if I am not careful but I will try to do something. I'm not computer savvy enough to start a website but maybe I will refer them here. Come to think of it, I belive I already signed your petition.
Ernest Grolimund
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