Wildfires

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Wildfires

Postby woodburner » Mon Oct 16, 2006 4:41 am

On average, wildfires burn 4.3 million acres in the United States annually. I wonder what the emissions are from this and how they compare to the smoke produced by my wood stove? I think as long as you don't hold your head over the top of your chimney and breath in the smoke, you'll be just fine.
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Postby FriendofAir » Mon Oct 16, 2006 8:48 am

I think it depends a lot on where you burn your wood. Fortunately, the wildfires burn themselves out and are typically not a daily experience in the middle of urban and suburban areas.

I personally think it is not a positive to health breathing smoke, and if nothing else, it certainly is a nuisance having your neighbors constantly burning fireplace's soot, smoke and ash waft through your windows, especially on warm summer nights here in Southern California.

I would think the air is degraded enough in the cities without adding the additional equivalent of hundreds of automobiles constantly circling my neighborhood.
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woodburner

Postby mary giacoletti » Fri Nov 03, 2006 4:26 pm

Methinks, woodburner doth protest too much. Surely he/she knows all the smoke facts necessary to know that burning wood is not a good thing, no matter how far away your neighbor is. One of the astronauts on the space station was interviewed by radio and asked what his impression of the planet from space was. He said "all he could see was smoke." Land-clearing fires in Indonesia to arson fires in California to collective campfires and woodburners. The ocean is dying as a result, not to mention the planet. Why would you want to contribute to this pitiful state of affairs? You are saying that none of it is worth $600 a year. Selling out cheap, I'd say.
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what

Postby woodburner » Mon Nov 06, 2006 7:11 am

mary giacoletti: What do you heat your home with? Do you live in a cold region which requires heat through half of the year? Or do you live in California like the owner of this website? Each source of heat has it's many drawbacks, environmentally and otherwise. How about all of the homes that use oil to heat with? Supporting our foreign dependencies and contributing to environmental disasters such as the Exxon Valdez spill.
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energy source drawbacks

Postby JackPine » Mon Nov 06, 2006 12:52 pm

You are quite right woodburner, each source of energy has its drawbacks.

Coal: dirty, high in sulfur, a large quantity heavy metals in the ash, heavy metals in the soot which isn't captured by the pollution control device, strip mining is an eyesore as well as an environmental problem, mining underground is dangerous. It must be shipped by truck, rail or barge to its final destination. All methods pollute. Burning contributes to global warming.

Oil: must be refined (which causes large amounts of pollution), either crude or processed is an environmental disaster when spilled in large quantities, if it is foreign oil then we (the US) make some rich king richer in the middle east, if it is domestic oil then we destroy and pollute our own area. It also must be shipped, railed, piped or trucked to its final destination. The piping doesn't cause much air pollution, but the other forms do. Burning contributes to global warming.

Natural gas: must be refined, which emits air pollution. The cleanest of the three fossil fuels. Distribution is mostly by pipe, but can also be done using ships. Burning contributes to global warming. On the plus side, combined cycle plants are very efficient as compared to coal and oil fired electrical plants.

Wood: more PM2.5 emissions than oil or natural gas. Less heavy metals than coal. On a local level, less distribution pollution. It is considered carbon neutral. More difficult to burn so as to minimize neighbor complaints.

Hydro: no emissions during operation, but the pollution pumped into the air during the mining of the limestone to make the cement as well as the manufacture of the cement was substantial. People and animals are dispaced by the headwater. Then there are those worried about the migrating fish and others who want the river for recreational use.

Solar: the manufacture of the material used in PV is very energy intensive. The chemicals used in the manufacture of PV are dangerous as well.

Wind: location, location, location. Often times the best places for wind projects are scenic areas and the NIBYs don't want to see them. Take the area off Nantucket and the Kennedys and Cronkites as an example. Let's not forget about the birds either.

Tidal: must be located in an area where a flow constriction occurs and the biologists worry about fish getting chopped up. Not a bad choice, but due to logistical constraints not as viable as other options.

Geothermal/heat pumps: not a bad choice overall, provided you have a reliable source of water and a large enough temperature difference for the heat pump. Electricity is required though.

If humans want electricity, there will be an impact. The farther you look back into how the widget was made or the fuel gathered to produce the electricity, the dirtier it is.
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Power to the woodburners!

Postby harleyfire18 » Sun Nov 12, 2006 4:32 pm

I heat my home with a EPA certified wood stove. I love it and wouldn't want to have it any other way. I consider myself conscious of the environment and dont think my stove is anything to be concerned about. When its burning I cant even see any "smoke" coming from the chimney. I think there are much bigger issues out there to be worried about.
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Postby FriendofAir » Sun Nov 12, 2006 6:45 pm

I used to burn wood too, I thought it was neat, cool and environmentally sound. It took me a few years to figure out it was none of the above. It's quite primitive and truly a PITA.

If your EPA stove burns so clean, how long can you close your damper before you house stinks to high heaven? According to most studies I have seen, they still put out a lot of crap.
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Re: Power to the woodburners?

Postby bodhi » Sun Nov 12, 2006 9:57 pm

harleyfire18 wrote: When its burning I cant even see any "smoke" coming from the chimney. I think there are much bigger issues out there to be worried about.

sadly you are right... the smoke is only part of the problem. the bigger issues you should worry about are the byproducts of wood burning... things that you cannot see, these are the real killers: volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and fine particulate matter.
recently the surgeon general stated that no amount of second hand smoke is ok. he was talking about cig smoke. wood smoke is 12 times as carcinogenic as cig smoke.
do the math...
~bodhi
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no

Postby woodburner » Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:51 am

Let me say this again. Wood smoke may be very bad for you if you hold your head over the chimney, or fill your house with smoke. But the smoke dissipates, thus having no harmful effects on your breathing. I have a wood stove and I don't breath in the smoke when I'm inside or out, except for a small puff now and again when starting a fire or something. I'm willing to accept that small puff. In the end, burning wood or having a neighbor that burns wood is not harmful to your health. Unless you or your neighbor are burning improperly. Holding your face over the top of a chimney is bad for your health, like smoking cigarettes.
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Postby FriendofAir » Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:30 am

It's all relative, and all cumulative. Of course sticking your head over a chimney will affect your health a lot more than breathing secondhand smoke that has dissipated. There of course are many factors that come into play. The number of people burning wood, the wind conditions, topography, and proximity to the source.

The bottom line is the evolving science is telling us that burning wood puts out an inordinate amount of pollution that does not immediately dissipate. WOOD SMOKE IS PROBABLY THE LARGEST NEIGHBORHOOD GENERATED SOURCE OF AIR POLLUTION.

Try this experiment, close your damper for only 20 or 30 seconds and tell me the result. Now, multiply that amount of smoke and soot for endless hours day after day and you begin to see the impact that one wood burner has. Now multiply that by the number of wood burners in a given population. Yes, I know, the smoke is diluted and dissipated throughout the neighborhood and is not concentrated like at the top of the chimney.

If you are so willing to subject your neighbors to such a "minor" amount of pollution, you should have no problem doing this experiment for just a few seconds and see how clean burning your stove really is.
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what???

Postby bodhi » Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:44 am

woodburner wrote:Let me say this again. Wood smoke may be very bad for you if you hold your head over the chimney, or fill your house with smoke.

i guess mr. woodburner that you have never heard of second hand smoke...
not much smoke comes off the end of a cig either and apparently the academic/science world thinks that even that small amount is not ok.
so........ let me say it again:
volume for volume the smoke from a wood fire is 12 times more carcinogenic than the smoke from cigarettes!
~EPA 1991

hint: does the volume for volume bit mean anything to you?
maybe sir, you are in a position to argue with this science.?.?.
~bodhi
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apples != oranges

Postby woodburner » Mon Nov 13, 2006 1:31 pm

You are comparing apples to oranges. Having a wood stove or a neighbors wood stove you will never encounter the concentrations of smoke that you do if somebody is smoking a cigarette right next to you or you are smoking one yourself. The volume to volume comparison is only relevant if you were directly inhaling the smoke right out of a wood stove. Any smoke that you may encounter from a wood stove is going to be well more than 12x diluted by time it reaches your lungs. I am not disputing your statement of it being worse volume for volume, but I am merely disputing the relevance of it. You could state that smoking a cigarette packed with wood would be 12x worse for you than one packed with tobacco, but not that having a wood stove in your home is 12x worse for you than smoking which seems to be what you are implying.
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Postby FriendofAir » Mon Nov 13, 2006 1:52 pm

So will any of the wood burners try my little experiment?
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re:

Postby woodburner » Mon Nov 13, 2006 2:02 pm

FriendofAir wrote:So will any of the wood burners try my little experiment?


FriendofAir: are you saying to close the damper and open the door? No I would not do that. That would introduce concentrated smoke into an enclosed environment which is not something that I think anyone would recommend.
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apples and oranges

Postby bodhi » Mon Nov 13, 2006 2:37 pm

interesting logic mr. burner...
what is your take on the particulate matter your raging bonfire or wood stove or other wood burning device is creating?
you know, the PM2.5 that comes from your fires. the ones made up of various sulphates, nitrates, tiny particles of carbon, or other condensed organic stuff. science has shown that these particles tend to hover for days, if not weeks. the ones that are so small that they can penetrate very deeply into the lungs. They can interfere with the respiratory system, and the cardiovascular system. what a neighborly thing to do!
i suppose the scientists that discovered this information were comparing apples to something else.
~bodhi
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