Serious concerns about burning

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Serious concerns about burning

Postby Wilberforce » Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:10 pm

Serious concerns about burning
Published: October 29, 2013 8:00 AM
Updated: October 29, 2013 8:39 AM

Editor: The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that air pollution is a carcinogen. Wood smoke contains carbon monoxide (CO), sulphur dioxide (SO2), dioxins, volatile organic compounds and fine particles, and it contributes to air pollution.

Many of the substances found in tobacco smoke are also found in wood smoke. Wood smoke particles are so tiny they remain suspended in the air for long periods of time and can penetrate into buildings with incoming air. Even at low levels, wood smoke is harmful to respiratory immune responses and can cause life-threatening events (heart attack) as well as exposing individuals to lifelong issues by damaging lung tissue.

The B.C. government document “A smoke management framework for British Columbia” contained the following statement: “there is a considerable and growing body of epidemiological and toxicological evidence that both acute and chronic exposure to wood smoke....are associated with adverse health impacts.”

It also contains the following statement: “sources that emit in close proximity (e.g. your neighbours) have a higher intake fraction (are more damaging)” and “sources that emit from elevated stacks tend to have lower intake fractions versus sources at ground levels.” This applies to backyard burn piles.

Langley Township issues burn permits, which usually allow burning for one month. While the permit provides some guidelines on how to build a “safe” burn pile, it provides no information on the need to eliminate or minimize smoke both during and after the burn, nor does it provide any information on health issues caused by burning permitted material, which includes all types of yard waste.

There is only one air pollution monitoring station in Langley. It is located at D.W. Poppy Secondary School. The station at Lochiel School in South Langley went out of service over 10 years ago.

This makes it possible for local and provincial bodies to claim that there is no data suggesting an issue with the burning of wood waste in residents’ backyards.

My personal experience is that there are many issues, both health and enforcement related. I have seen two fires on one property (only one is permitted). I have found pieces of burned plastic on my property, blown there on those dreadful days when the wind direction blows the smoke towards my house, instead of over the house of the neighbour generating the smoke. Burning plastic material is prohibited.

In the 16 years I have lived here, this year has been the worst for smoke in the air. I have had days when neighbours’ fires and smoke essentially surrounded my property. I have inhaled smoke from fires that have been smoking for anywhere between 12 and 24 hours, all within half a mile of my residence.

It makes no sense to that anyone should be allowed to burn material in their backyard. The world is facing significant climate change issues as a result of global warming, which is caused by greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere.

Smoke from wood burning contributes to atmospheric GHGs. In September, the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report confirming that climate change is real, that average temperatures will increase by between two and six degrees by 2050, and it is being caused by human activity releasing GHGs into the atmosphere.

A recent study shows that temperatures at the Arctic are the highest they have been for 44,000 years, as a direct result of global warming. It is probable that all the ice caps will disappear by mid-century.

In Washington state, it is illegal to smoke out your neighbours. Anyone generating smoke which exceeds 20 percent opacity for six minutes or more is subject to a fine. BC’s Ministry of Water Land and Air Protection has provided B.C. municipalities with a guide on waste burning, which includes the suggestion that the practice be banned.

It can be found at ... urning.pdf.

Where a municipality elects to continue the practice, the fees suggested are significantly higher than those charged by the Township, and a system of enforcement and fines is suggested.

The Township, together with Metro, should be able to come up with a waste-burning strategy which eliminates the release of GHGs into the atmosphere and perhaps even generates something useful, such as adding power into the electrical grid. Instead of charging $15 for a one-month burn permit, Township could implement a charge which equals or exceeds the amount charged at waste stations.

Alternatively, the Township could stop issuing burn permits at all, and set up a collection system, with a reasonable charge, and take the material to a waste or transfer station for disposal.

Mei Lin Yeoell,

source ... obile=true


Letter: That nice, cozy wood fire is bad for you
The Gazette October 29, 2013

Re: “City’s wood-stove ban makes no sense” (Your Views, Oct. 29)

A fire, burning safely within the confines of a fireplace or a wood stove, is a visible and tangible source of comfort to us. Nothing is more natural to us than burning wood to stay warm. I am sorry to say that if you feel this way about a wood fire, you are not only wrong but dangerously misguided. That nice, cozy fire is bad for you.

Here is what we know from a scientific point of view: There is no amount of wood smoke that is good to breathe. Wood stoves produce tiny particles (pm 2.5) that can go deep in the lungs and can intensify breathing and heart problems for many people. It’s at least as bad for you as cigarette smoke, and probably much worse. (One study found it to be 30 times more potent a carcinogen.) Once it exits your chimney, the smoke freely passes back into your home and into the homes of others. (Research shows that nearly 70 per cent of chimney smoke re-enters nearby buildings.) It’s ironic that the letter about wanting to keep wood stoves on the island comes just after the World Health Organization declared that there is a direct link between air pollution and cancer.

In 2011, the island of Montreal was ranked with the second-worst air quality in all of Canada. The total number of poor air-quality days was 69. Quebec’s Environmental Ministry has residential wood heating as the No. 1 source of air pollution at 44.1 per cent. Transportation was much farther down the list at 15.3 per cent. In 2007, the economic cost of air pollution resulted in over $3 million in health care costs. Also, there is a misconception about the socioeconomic impact of wood burning on the island. A large percentage of air pollution comes directly from the West Island, with Beaconsfield, Dollard-des-Ormeaux and Pierrefonds being among the worst offenders.

Installing an EPA certified wood stove is like smoking a “light” branded cigarette and trying to market it as being less polluting when we know that these claims are extremely misleading. The EPA came out with their own study that cited that EPA-certified stoves failed miserably in real-world conditions outside of a lab and weren’t much safer than older wood stoves. The EPA estimates that the lifetime cancer risk from wood stove smoke is 12 times greater than that from an equal volume of second-hand tobacco smoke. The city of Montreal made the right decision by not offering these stoves as part of their “Feu-Vert” program to help remove old wood burning stoves from the island of Montreal.

Having stoves as an emergency source of heat is a valid point, but the real reason that many people want to keep them is an economic one. Burning wood costs homeowners less money. Wood burners can cut their heating costs in half, which gives them more discretionary income compared to those who use conventional methods to heat their homes. These individuals don’t want to lose their stove because the convenience of saving money will be gone. But, what’s the point in saving money in the short term if you risk serious health issues a short time later? Even if you reject every intrusion of the “nanny state,” you should agree that the recreational burning of wood is unethical and should be illegal, especially in urban areas.

The city of Montreal (including the demerged boroughs) should create a bylaw to cover nuisance smoke so that there is recourse for residents subjected to a neighbour’s smoke. Those affected by smoke from a neighbouring property, as it stands right now, have nowhere to turn unless they can afford to take legal action. Most people want to live in a world in which wood smoke is harmless regardless of the facts. And yet, when trying to make this point, it’s considered offensive because it’s been a practice that has been culturally acceptable and comforting to many people regardless of the facts. No resident should have to beg to have fresh air to breathe in their own home. The reality is scientifically clear. If you care about your family and your neighbour’s health, you won’t burn wood. It’s time to break away and start heating using conventional methods — or burn nothing at all.

Christopher Lipinski-Ship

source ... story.html
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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