Burning Issues

Smoke Free Halloween to Protect Children

by Jamie Casebar, 2001

Soon the fall air will be growing crisp and folks will
be thinking how it would be to build a nice cozy fire
in the fireplace or wood stove. And before we know it,
Halloween will be upon us and all the excited kids
will be out with their costumes going house to house
trick-or-treating. But whatís wrong with this picture?
It is that kids that are outside trick-or-treating on
chilly Halloween Night are likely to be inhaling doses
of particulate pollution coming from residential
fireplaces and wood stoves.

It is a well known fact that once the tiny particles
that comprise wood smoke are breathed in, they lodge
deep within the lung tissue and cannot be expelled.
Asthma attacks are triggered by breathing air
pollution. Every mother of an asthmatic child knows
how devastating an asthma attack can be. Childhood
asthma in the U.S. is approaching epidemic
proportions. According to a survey by the Center for
Disease Control (CDC), one child in seven has been
diagnosed with asthma. In the last ten years the
number of children suffering from asthma has doubled.

Healthy or not, we wouldnít allow our little ones to
smoke cigarettes. But cigarette smoke and wood smoke
are very similar in both the chemical components and
the size of the particulate matter in them. For more
information on how to reduce or eliminate wood smoke
pollution, residents can call the Bay Area Air Quality
Management District, (BAAQMD) at 1-415-749-4900 and
ask for a copy of the Woodburning Handbook.

Donít we owe it to our children to leave off the
burning for that one night of the year that is so
special to them? And parents, wouldnít it be a good
idea to provide good filter masks for kids to wear
under their Halloween masks to protect them and their
lungs from being damaged by breathing wood smoke?
According to 3M, with a good fit, even the kind of N95
or R95 paper masks that can be purchased at any local
hardware store for less than $1.50 will filter
particles down to .3 micron in size.

For more information regarding the health effects of
breathing wood smoke, please check burning issues.org
on the world wide web.

Jami Caseber for Citizens Opposing a Polluted
Environment (COPE)

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