Studies and Statistics

The Harvard School of Public Health did a statistical analysis of over 550,000 deaths in 151 cities and found that there is an increased mortality rate of up to 17% in cities which have elevated particle pollution levels. The dirtiest air averaged 34ug/m3.

A study of two Southern California counties found that as many as 545 deaths per year there are directly attributable to episodes of elevated particle pollution. The researcher notes that some of these people who were suffering from a temporary illness "could have lived another 10 or 20 years of more" had they not been ill at the time of the pollution.

The Harvard School of Public Health analyzed illness reports in 53 cities. The study showed that for every 10ug/m3 increase in the annual average particulate concentrations the odds for respiratory illness, including chronic bronchitis, increased 6 to 7%.

A California State University at Fullerton study found that if air quality regulators addressed particle pollution in the San Francisco Bay area, $2 billion in health care expenses, and 400 lives would be saved there annually.

Children's health studies have documented decreases in lung function, increases in respiratory illness, asthma attacks, hospital emergency room visits and school absences due to illness related to episodes of elevated particle pollution. Particle pollution is a contributing factor for SIDS. The children living in homes where wood is burned are at an additional risk for these health problems.

Measurements of particulates in Klamath Falls, Oregon have exceeded 600ug/m3 as a 24 hour average, with 80% of particles resulting from residential wood burning.

Geographic features greatly impact the concentration of particles. Measurements in four areas of a community revealed four different readings. The level in the air surrounding one home, and in specific neighborhoods can be alarmingly high where wood is burned.

The indoor air in homes where wood is burned in either stoves or fireplaces becomes polluted during burning and especially at the end of the burn cycle when there is not enough heat to cause the combustion products to go up the flue. The gases directly enter the home, even with so-called "air-tight" stoves.

In a laboratory study at N.Y. University, animals exposed to wood smoke levels immediately had a 25% decrease in the lungs ability to clear bacteria, and after just 1.5 to 2.5 hours, had decreases of 23 to 61% in lung function.

In a laboratory at Louisiana State U., researchers found that the free radicals produced from wood smoke are chemically active 40 times longer than those produced from cigarette smoke, so that once inhaled they will attack the bodies cells longer.

Burning Issues
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