Burning Issues: A project ofClean Air Revival, Inc.

Wood smoke threatens Public Health in US Parks

by Ken Tarquinio

San Jose, CA, USA

-------------------- January 2003

Perhaps there was a time when campfires were required to prepare food
and provide heat and light after dark. Perhaps these needs can still best
be satisfied in some instances with the traditional campfire. However,
today, in most instances, cooking can best be achieved with propane stoves,
briquettes, or other cleaner burning fuel. Light can best be provided
by a lantern. Bodies can best be kept warm by appropriate clothing.

Today, campfires are mostly to provide the "romance" of living in an
earlier era. However, no longer is there a single group of adventurers huddled
around a single campfire miles away from any other person. Today
hundreds of people may be camped in a confined valley and each group of people has
their own highly polluting campfire. Today camping is often very unhealthy
and the air can be choking or even of immediate danger to sensitive
individuals. Isn't it time we change the traditions to reflect modern realities.

While camping in Yosemite this summer the wood smoke pollution in the
campground was horrible. This was not the first time. In nearly every
campground that we have ever visited campfires spoil the air that we
breathe. Although I do not normally have breathing difficulties, I
still experience polluted air in campgrounds that makes breathing both
uncomfortable and unhealthy. After arrival home, our camping, gear,
clothes and hair needs to be cleaned to remove the stench. I never could fully
rid my tent of the odor.

Isn't it ironic that we leave the "polluted city" where I have no
difficulty breathing to arrive at a vastly more polluted national park. Isn't it
ironic that some people who are averse to second hand smoke from cigarettes,
accept (welcome?) campfire smoke as being "natural" and totally acceptable.

My heart goes out to rangers and other workers (and wildlife) who are
forced to expose themselves to these polluted environments on a continual
basis. I can only imagine the health hazards they face because of the
environment they inhabit

I would be in favor of limiting campfires in parks so that people who
wish to visit may do so and experience a pleasant, healthy environment.
Although I would be personally in favor of outlawing campfires in public
campgrounds, I realize that many people would feel "cheated" of not being able to
experience the "full camping experience". Therefore, I advocate
instead, alternative policies that could be tried.

Some ideas include "No campfire days" or require cleaner burning fuel,
or provide a few campgrounds where campfires were not permitted or were
severely limited. Perhaps, a large single grill with clean burning fuel
could be located for all to enjoy and use during limited hours. These
alternatives, rather than being seen as a limitation, may be viewed as
an improved environment for those who prefer, or those who require clean
air because of health problems. I believe that alerting campers to these
options while campsites were being reserved would be welcome with open arms,
if they were available. It will give new meaning to a "no smoking" policy.


Ken Tarquinio

San Jose, CA, USA

Life Styles: Candles

"If I were someone who had a health problem like asthma, and I were looking for things to prevent aggravating (my) respiratory problems, candles and incense are two things I would seriously consider" getting rid of, says Michael Osborne of the EPA.

Candle pollutants include:

Particulates, tiny droplets or particles of soot and toxic chemicals. EPA experiments found
that burning one candle with multiple wicks or a cluster of nine candles in a room with
good circulation led to particulate levels higher than the legal limit in outdoor air.
Lead, a nervous-system toxin. The wicks in a small percentage of imported candles have
lead cores. A study by non-EPA scientists found that candles can emit enough lead to
exceed the legal limit for outdoor air. The Consumer Product Safety Commission plans to
ban lead wicks. So then they will try to sell you lead free candles. Burning things, including lead free candles produces deadly soot.

candles soot

That Mysterious Soot Might Be From

Life Styles - Image vs Reality

Seed catalogue

New York Times Barbeque 11.25.01

New York Times Real Estate Ads Imply That Every Home Burns. Thank God this isn't so. Let the NYT know that it is time to change this ad to one that supports a clean air environment. More apartments are scheduled to be built in Manhattan with real fireplaces. It is nuts. Or move to a house and pollute the country. Sounds great.

Why aren't we angry enough about wood burning? Are Wood burners free loaders? Interesting study finds society is bound together by anger. It's not love or affection. It's not even blatant self-interest that binds human societies together. It's anger. This week's New Scientist makes an unsettling discovery...

Is it altruistic to donate to Burning Issues?


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