To Smoke, Or Not To Smoke, That Is The Question.

News related to particulate air pollution.

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To Smoke, Or Not To Smoke, That Is The Question.

Postby Wilberforce » Mon Oct 20, 2014 6:46 pm

Tim Chuey
Tim Chuey is a Member of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association and has been Awarded Seals of Approval for television weathercasting from both organizations.

To Smoke, Or Not To Smoke, That Is The Question.

I hate to break the news to you, but the colder weather season is almost here. Now that I have spoiled your day, my emphasis is on the fact that we will all need to be able to keep our homes warm during the Winter weather. November 1st begins the Home Wood Heating Advisory that is prepared by LRAPA (Lane Regional Air Protection Agency). What is the Home Wood Heating Advisory and why is it so important? The Advisory is issued during the winter months because that is when it gets colder and more people heat their homes, at least in part, with wood stoves and/or fireplaces.
Too Much Visible Smoke

Too Much Visible Smoke During Red Advisory | Photo by LRAPA

Those fires produce smoke and when the air is trapped near the ground in the winter the smoke has nowhere to go, so it gets more and more dense causing breathing problems for many people. It bothers those who already have breathing problems such as asthma, emphysema, COPD, allergies, heart and lung disease, the very old, the very young, and pregnant women first. When the air gets really bad it can put everyone at risk. What about the “air” causes all of these problems?

It goes back to what makes up the smoke from wood fires. The technical definition of fire as defined by Wikipedia is “the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products.” It’s those reaction products that we are concerned with here particularly the smoke. Another Wikipedia definition here for smoke which is “a collection of airborne solid and liquid particulates emitted when a material undergoes combustion or pyrolysis together with the quantity of the air that is entrained or otherwise mixed into the mass.” Wood smoke has been known to contain over 200 chemicals and compound groups and that is where the problem begins when people inhale and pull them into their lungs.
Clean Chimney Smoke

Clean Chimney Smoke During Red Advisory | Photo by LRAPA

The Home Wood Heating Advisory is issued for two reasons. First of all to alert the public to the amount of particulates in the air so you can avoid as much exposure to it as possible and secondly to let you know when the air quality is getting bad enough that you should either restrict your burning of wood products or even curtail wood burning completely until the air quality significantly improves.

According to LRAPA “there are three categories used in the Home Wood Heating Advisory:

1) Green – A Green advisory means air quality is good and burning is allowed.

2) Yellow – A Yellow advisory indicates that the air quality is deteriorating and burning is cautioned against.

3) Red – A Red advisory indicates that the air quality is poor and burning is prohibited. Pellet stoves may be used if they produce no visible emissions.”

The advisory is determined by taking into account current air pollution levels, the Air Quality Index, and current weather forecasts. Those found in violation of The Red Advisory can fall into one of four categories of fines from $50 to $400 per day in violation.

There are exemptions to the program: “Low income exemptions are allowed for people who meet economic need guidelines. These exemptions allow qualified individual households to heat with wood-burning devices during periods of inadequate atmospheric mixing and poor air quality. Exemptions are granted on a yearly basis to applicants who meet Oregon Housing and Community Services Department Poverty Guidelines.”

“The program is mandatory in the Eugene/Springfield area and voluntary throughout the rest of Lane County” according to LRAPA. “A person is in violation of the program if their home’s chimney emits visible smoke.”

We will post the Home Wood Heating Advisory starting November 1st and it will look like this.

source ... -question/
• 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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