Burning Issues

Protection from Wood Smoke and Particulate Pollution

Keep air filter masks on hand.

What you can do to protect yourself from this pollution: Wear a mask, use 3 stage air cleaners. also see:Protecting Your Family from Neighborhood Wood Smoke

High concentrations of dangerous particulate pollution result from combustion found inside homes where the pollution originates, in the outdoor air surrounding the neighborhood and in the indoor air of the other homes in the neighborhood. Here's what you can do:

  • Stop Burning: do not burn any fuels on the low end of the energy scale inside or outside your home. This includes wood, coal, pellets and corn cobs in stoves, fireplaces, and charcoal and wood for outdoor cooking. It includes outdoor burning of biomass and garbage.
  • For outdoor cooking use propane gas fuel, trim fat and pre-cook meats in oven or microwave when possible. Some new gas grills are designed to reduce grease fires and smoke.
  • Vent all gas fireplaces, gas cooking appliances, Sterno and cooking vapors.
  • Use clean burning home heating fuels; oil and natural gas.
  • Insulate and seal drafts for energy efficiency and to slow the infiltration of outdoor pollutants. Keep furnaces in good repair and adequately vented. Place a carbon monoxide detector near the furnace. Install an air cleaning system, replace filters often .
  • Use room air filters which remove particles and gases when outdoor air is polluted. (These are 3 stage filters - carbon, hepa and zeolite. Research has shown ionizer air cleaners can aggravate respiratory symptoms. )
  • Reduce indoor air pollution from indoor sources. Use non-toxic building and finishing materials. Eliminate or reduce use of toxic personal care and cleaning products and pesticides. Use dishwasher detergents that do not produce chlorine gas. Avoid the use of candles, incense, and wax logs.
  • Place freshly dry cleaned clothes in a well ventilated area, away from living areas for 8 hours. Reduce your need for dry cleaning. Consider buying washable clothing. Buy washable bedspreads and dust ruffles.
  • Wear a particulate mask when working outdoors. Avoid playing outdoors in loose dirt which generates inhalable dust. Wear a particulate mask when dealing with garden compost and soil additives.
  • Use manually operated, or electric powered lawn equipment, eliminate large lawn areas.
  • Eliminate outdoor use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers where possible.
  • Do not drive diesel fueled cars, diesel burning contributes greatly to particulates.
  • Take defensive measures in automobiles. For health protection maintain a good distance from visibly smoking vehicles allowing for some dispersion of the pollution. Close outside vents when necessary. Consider a purchase of a 3 stage car air filter, that will remove gases and fine particulate. Our studies indicate a significant rise in levels of carbon monoxide and particulates in vehicles behind the polluting vehicle. Buses, trucks and diesel cars are the worst. Try to avoid driving when the air is filled with any smoke including wood smoke. Chemicals and gases in the smoke can affect judgement and motor skills.
  • Make an effort to become more educated on the harmful effects of particle pollution and residential air pollution sources and work to educate others.
  • Request that your County Board of Health include controlling residential burning in the public health codes because of the health problems that it causes.
  • Work with your local municipality. At this time U.S. EPA and state environmental agencies defer regulation of residential pollution sources to the local governments.
  • Consider an ADA (American Disabled Access) law suit if pollution from burning fills streets, parks, and public areas.

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