Burning Issues

Alert - San Francisco Bay Area - 2/27/99

In the guise of improving the air quality in the Bay Area, the BAAQMD (Bay Area Air Quality Management District) is pushing localities to continue to allow the sale of new wood burning stoves and appliances.The BAAQMD has issued and distributed information about wood burning that doesn't do a very good job of covering all the facts. In Noam Chompsky's words they are "manufacturing consent" when in reality they are doing nothing to address the problem. Dr. Michael Lipsett quips "The BAAQMD Plan is to Pray for Rain." Burning Issues/Clean Air Revival, Inc. wishes to offer rebuttal to their report. The rebuttal will be in bold. Mary Rozenberg, President, PO Box 1045, Point Arena, CA 95468, (707) 882-3601, e-mail: Pm10mary@mcn.org, Website: http://Burningissues.org

BAAQMD "Help Reduce Winter Pollution In Your Neighborhood"

Rebuttal to title: It implies that there is something that you can do to cut the wood smoke. You, the 84% who never burn, can do nothing to clear the air. It is up to the wood burners to stop burning and up to the air district to stop supporting the wood stove, timber, steel and masonry industry and trade unions.

Reduce Driving:

Rebuttal: This is only 10% of the winter problem

Reduce Wood burning:

Rebuttal: Wood burning is 90% of the winter pollution in the neighborhoods. It is caused by fewer than 16% of the population who ever burn ( in the Bay Area this is apx. 500,000 burners). Burners are in the minority yet cause enough pollution in 3 months of burning to equal all the traffic from the entire year. The Burners cause a rise in mortality and illness during the winter months. Every home is infiltrated with wood smoke. 70% of the outdoor level is indoors, in every home and business. The medical cost of the wood burning equals the medical cost of all the traffic. It is over $1 billion per year for wood burning alone. There is no way to escape it. So why do we continue to let the air district and the burners ruin our lives, our health and our right to clean air? Reducing wood burning does no good at all in a growing community. We are looking at an extra large pollution problem. We need to eliminate the problem. The only way to get cleaner air (remember you still have all the traffic and industry to deal with) is to outlaw solid fuel combustion.

Reduce or eliminate wood burning

Rebuttal :Even a reduction in burning won't do much... burning 20 lb. of wood causes a lot of pollution!!! And the number of people who burn is small...even if they voluntarily cut back it won't make a big difference. The additional problem here is the attitude of the burners. Burners combat all efforts to moderate their burning with nasty, mean, obstreperous behavior. Burners burn and burn and burn. Many are former smokers. No one is going to tell them what to do!

Switch to cleaner-burning technologies such as a pellet stove or an EPA-certified wood stove.

Rebuttal: The fallacy in logic here is clear. A new EPA approved wood stove puts out and average of 8 grams an hour of pollution. It looks good on paper. Here is the problem a wood stove is used for heat. In order to burn clean it needs to run 24 hrs. a day. 24 x 8 = 192 grams of pollution. The 192 grams are even nastier than the belching fireplace (usual run 2 ½ hrs. -= 150 grams pollution.) as they are richer in Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), PAH causes cancer. If all the burners every one of the 500,000 started burning an EPA wood stove today they would cause their 192 grams each every day for months. "EPA approved" - approved for what? Cancer? Heart disease? Sudden Death? Lingering and painful illness and death.

Use manufactured fireplace logs - they burn up to 50% cleaner than wood.

Rebuttal: Suggesting that you can clear pollution by burning a petroleum and garbage sawdust product is false. (The timber industry wants to keep selling its garbage as a product. They would be fined if they burned it. They would rather you buy it and burn it.) (One manufacturer even claims on the label that the product is non-toxic!)

If you must burn wood, learn to "Light it right!"

Rebuttal: We need to eliminate situations and housing that is substandard and does not have central heating. Emergency heat can be obtained with generators that are less expensive and less polluting than wood stoves. Nobody must burn.


BAAQMD = How do Particulates affect my health? 1/99

*Causes coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath

*Irritates eyes

*Triggers headaches and allergies

*Aggravates asthma and other respiratory conditions.

*Can lead to respiratory diseases like bronchitis and emphysema

*Has been correlated with higher death rates in cities with higher particulate levels.

Burning Issues Rebuttal: The facts? Maybe but just a few of them. BAAQMD does not want to take responsibility to inform you that your neighborhood burner is costing you money for health care and illness every time they burn. They do not inform you that the smoke is so small 70% of smoke pollution in the air around your home or office comes indoors, into your house. They don't tell you that you are breathing more fine particles in your home than if you lived with a smoker. Laws allowing burning violate your constitutional rights. In other words, This proposed ordinance violates the constitutional rights of 84% of the population.

Very simply WOOD Smoke kills. The entire SF Bay excess death rate occurs during the wood burning months. Estimates are that wood smoke causes $1.1 billion in illness, death, and lost wages. Wood smoke causes sudden infant death, SIDS. Wood smoke causes heart disease. Wood smoke causes circulatory problems. Wood smoke causes hardening of the arteries. Wood smoke causes infections. Wood smoke makes it harder to recover when you are ill. Wood smoke particles spread infectious disease. Infections cause inflammation, tissue necrosis, and pathophysiological processes. In other words, wood smoke causes permanent tissue damage to everyone who has to breath it. The fine particles (soot) carry viable bacteria, viruses, and molds deep into human lungs. Exposure to wood smoke lowers your immune response. Wood smoke causes permanent immune damage. Wood smoke causes cancer. The psychological damage of misery and suffering that continues to be inflicted by the burners to both the injured victims and the survivors divides us house by house, and inflicts the trauma and damage of a civil war.

To raise your wood smoke I.Q. visit our award winning web site. Go to the fact sheets and the bibliography. Help us clear the air by telling others the truth about the BAAQMD Plan.

Burning Issues
Box 1045
Point Arena CA 95468
Tel: 707-882-3601
Email: [pm10mary at mcn dot org]
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